It is disingenuous to say that the hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee yesterday was about Bowe Bergdahl. In fact, outside of some character testimony from former Army Specialist Cody Full, the focus of the hearing was indirectly on Guantanamo Bay and the problems of indefinite detention.
Republican Representative Sean Duffy from Wisconsin began his questions – although, for the most part on either side the “questions” were second to political grandstanding – by saying “all of us agree in due process,” adding later, “we’re Americans.”
He was, of course, discussing the fact that Bowe Bergdahl has been tried (and found guilty) in the court of public opinion of being a deserter and Taliban sympathizer. An earlier question from Democratic representative Lois Frankel asked Spc. Full and other witnesses if Bergdahl didn’t deserve due process (although she didn’t seem to be aware that the Uniform Code of Military Justice exists).
Yet, Duffy continued with his statements, this time directing them at the only “defender” of the trade for Bergdahl Dr. Mark Jacobson, a 20 year veteran of the military and current diplomat. Throughout his condescending questions to Dr. Jacobson implies that ever releasing the detainees held in Guantanamo Bay – all held there without due process – would result in catastrophe.
Both Spc. Full and Michael Waltz, a former Special Forces commander and current DoD contractor, many times throughout the hearing said that their main goal was to come forward so that the Obama administration did not paint Bergdahl as “a hero.” For Full especially that this is personal is obvious. He believes Bowe Bergdahl abandoned him and the rest of the unit, and he is angry about that.
The most startling revelation from this hearing, has little to do with either Bergdahl or the problem of Guantanamo Bay. Instead, it was the detached way in which many of the Congressmen and –women talked about the war and the rank ignorance they had about life in the military.
Also not brought up, by anyone, was the question about whether or not Bowe Bergdahl was mentally injured before he disappeared from his post. Full told the committee that “everybody deals with mental issues in some form or another” when deployed, but immediately dismissed whatever those issues might have been by suggesting that since no one else reacted the way Bergdahl did.
Again, this is not about Spc. Full doing or saying anything he shouldn’t have. He always clarified when stating his opinion and tried to “stay in his lane” with respect to his answers to questions dealing with matters about his pay grade.
It is evident that these men who served with Bergdahl were speaking out against a political attempt to cast Bergdahl as a hero, but their version of events have been seized by the other side and politicized just as much.
Image via screengrab