Bergdahl pleads guilty to deserting his post


Associated Press

FORT BRAGG, N.C.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured and held by the Taliban for five years after walking away from his post in Afghanistan, pleaded guilty Monday to desertion and misbehavior-before-the-enemy charges that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

“I understand that leaving was against the law,” said Bergdahl, who admitted guilt without striking a deal with prosecutors, meaning his punishment will be up to a military judge when he is sentenced later this month.

The guilty plea brings the highly politicized saga closer to an end eight years after Bergdahl vanished.

President Barack Obama brought him home in 2014 in a swap for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, saying the U.S. does not leave its service members on the battlefield. Republicans roundly criticized Obama, and Donald Trump went further while campaigning for president, repeatedly calling Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor” who deserved to be executed by firing squad or thrown out of a plane without a parachute.

Bergdahl, 31, has said he walked away from his remote post in 2009 with the intention of reaching other commanders and drawing attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.

He told the judge, Col. Jeffrey R. Nance, that he now understands that his actions prompted an intensive search during which some of his comrades were seriously wounded.

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