Army to investigate desertion claims

Gen. Martin Dempsey, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday the Army may still pursue an investigation into the conduct of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was recently freed after nearly five years of being held captive in Afghanistan.

Gen. Dempsey told the Associated Press that U.S. military leaders “have been accused of looking away from misconduct” but said “it’s premature” to assume they would do so in Sgt. Bergdahl’s case.

Sgt. Bergdahl was recently freed from nearly five years of being held in captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan in exchange for the transfer of five former Guantanamo Bay prison detainees to Qatar.

Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl

Some of Sgt. Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have in recent days said he essentially abandoned his post in 2009 when he was taken captive by the Taliban. The Washington Times also reported Monday that the Pentagon on multiple occasions knew where Sgt. Bergdahl was being held but commanders scrapped rescue missions because they were unwilling to risk casualties for a man they believed to be a “deserter,” according to sources familiar with the plan.

Click here to read more from the Washington Times.

While some in Congress are arguing the legality or not of President Obama’s action, Politico notes a Donald Trump interview on Fox News as significant because the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl puts other American soldiers in harm’s way.

“It’s a terrible deal we made, a terrible deal,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” during an interview on Monday morning. “Every soldier and every American is at risk now.”

On Saturday, President Barack Obama announced that the last U.S. captive in Afghanistan had been set free. Bergdahl, 28, was handed over to the U.S. in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees in custody at the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

“I think it’s going to turn out to be one catastrophe,” said Trump, the author of “The Art of the Deal.” “They think they’re doing it for political reasons; I think it will end up being a political nightmare.”

He added, “It’s the gang that can’t shoot straight, that’s our leadership. But you can’t do this, you can’t set this kind of precedent and it puts every American solider and actually every American in danger. There is no question about it, this is a horrible trade.”

Read more from Politico by clicking here.

BoweBergdahlSwapSo who are these five Afghan detainees in custody at the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba?  CNN has a summary of the charges on each:

Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa

Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban’s rule. He hails from the same tribe as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and was captured in January 2002. Khairkhwa’s most prominent position was as governor of Herat province from 1999 to 2001, and he was alleged to have been “directly associated” with Osama bin Laden. According to a detainee assessment, Khairkhwa also was probably associated with al Qaeda’s now-deceased leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi. He is described as one of the “major opium drug lords in western Afghanistan” and a “friend” of Karzai. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities.

Mullah Mohammad Fazl

Fazl commanded the main force fighting the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001, and served as chief of army staff under the Taliban regime. He has been accused of war crimes during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s. Fazl was detained after surrendering to Abdul Rashid Dostam, the leader of Afghanistan’s Uzbek community, in November 2001. He was wanted by the United Nations in connection with the massacre of thousands of Afghan Shiites during the Taliban’s rule. “When asked about the murders, he did not express any regret,” according to the detainee assessment. He was alleged to have been associated with several militant Islamist groups, including al Qaeda. He was transferred into U.S. custody in December 2001 and was one of the first arrivals at Guantanamo, where he was assessed as having high intelligence value.

Mullah Norullah Noori

Noori served as governor of Balkh province in the Taliban regime and played some role in coordinating the fight against the Northern Alliance. Like Fazl, Noori was detained after surrendering to Dostam, the Uzbek leader, in 2001. Noori claimed during interrogation that “he never received any weapons or military training.” According to 2008 detainee assessment, Noori “continues to deny his role, importance and level of access to Taliban officials.” That same assessment characterized him as high risk and of high intelligence value.

Abdul Haq Wasiq

Wasiq was the deputy chief of the Taliban regime’s intelligence service. His cousin was head of the service. An administrative review in 2007 cited a source as saying that Wasiq was also “an al Qaeda intelligence member” and had links with members of another militant Islamist group, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. Wasiq claimed, according to the review, that he was arrested while trying to help the United States locate senior Taliban figures. He denied any links to militant groups.

Mohammad Nabi Omari

Omari was a minor Taliban official in Khost Province. According to the first administrative review in 2004, he was a member of the Taliban and associated with both al Qaeda and another militant group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. He was the Taliban’s chief of communications and helped al Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Omari acknowledged during hearings that he had worked for the Taliban but denied connections with militant groups. He also said that he had worked with a U.S. operative named Mark to try to track down Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Click here for more from CNN.

Photo Credit 1: Gen. Martin Dempsey, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attends the opening plenary meeting at the13th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, Saturday, May 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, POOL, Washington Times)

Photo Credit 2: Wikipedia