Soldier: Bergdahl 'Deserted Us' to Find the Taliban
The U.S. military says it may investigate desertion charges against Bowe Berghdal, the American soldier who was freed last weekend in a prisoner swap with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Army sergeant was released to U.S. Special Forces Saturday in exchange for five Taliban terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay.
While Bergdahl recovers in Europe, family and friends celebrated his release.
"We praise God for your freedom," Bergdahl's mother, Jani, said.
"'Bowe's coming home.' It's what you hear all the time. Just walk around, hear it everywhere," one Boise, Idaho, resident said.
But his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan have a different story to tell - one of betrayal.
"He walked away. He walked right off the base. I mean, the fact of the matter is, he deserted us in the middle of Afghanistan to go and find the Taliban," Sgt. Evan Buetow, Bergdahl's former team leader, told reporters.
Fox News reports U.S. intelligence sources say Bergdahl not only deserted his unit, but may have been an actual collaborator with the enemy.
Meanwhile, military officials indicated they may look into the allegations.
"Our Army's leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a Facebook post.
Bergdahl spent five years as a captive of the Taliban in Pakistan and is scheduled to come back to the United States this week.
The Obama administration says the Taliban prisoner exchange was a life or death matter for Bergdahl.
"We needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.
But at what price? Many Republican lawmakers say the shelving of the U.S. policy not to deal with terrorists sets a deadly precedent.
"The idea that we're now making trades - what does that do for every single soldier stationed abroad?" Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told ABC "This Week."
"It says the reason why the U.S. has had the policy for decades of not negotiating with terrorists is because once you start doing it, every other terrorist has an incentive to capture more soldiers," he said.
Both lawmakers and legal experts also say the administration disregarded a law that required the White House to give Congress 30 days' notice before any prisoner releases from Guantanamo Bay.
President Barack Obama, who is on a four-day trip to Europe, refuted that charge.
"We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Sergeant Bergdahl," the president said.
Meanwhile, Bergdahl's homecoming is almost certain to be a mixed blessing: relief that a U.S. soldier is home combined with anger among some that his actions may have led to danger and even death for his fellow soldiers.
"People calling him a hero or calling him this great soldier? It's a spit in the face to the soldiers who died as a direct result to him leaving," Buetow said.