If you listened to the second season of Serial, you are well acquainted with the story of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. He disappeared from a military base in Afghanistan in June 2009 and was held under arduous conditions by the Taliban until May 2014, when he was freed in a controversial exchange for the release of five detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl is seen as either a hero and brave POW or a traitor who left his post and went AWOL, endangering the lives of everyone who went to look for him. Donald Trump called him “a no-good traitor who should have been executed.”
Last month, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, per CNN. Now, Bergdahl has been sentenced and, contrary to Trump’s wishes, he will not be given the death penalty. Instead, he will be dishonorably discharged from the military, as reported by CNN, and his rank reduced from sergeant to private and he will be “required to pay a $1,000 fine from his salary for the next 10 months.”
While Bergdahl faced the possibility of life in prison, many people, including Kenneth Dahl, the Army general who led the investigation into Bergdahl’s actions, felt that jail time would be “inappropriate.” Seems the judge agreed.
In the podcast, Serial, Bergdahl said that he walked off his post to protest what he saw as incompetent leadership by commanders who were “unfit” for duty. The case was also made that Bergdahl suffered from mental illness, including schizotypal personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, as he was discharged from the Coast Guard for what were portrayed as psychological reasons. Despite this history, he then went on to join the U.S. military.