Tags: Afghanistan | Exclusive Interviews | Steve Malzberg Show | War on Terrorism | bowe bergdahl | white house | pardon

Ex-CIA Officer: White House Could Pardon Bowe Bergdahl

By    |   Friday, 27 Mar 2015 05:32 PM

Bowe Bergdahl "caused a lot of suffering among members of the military" after he walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 — and he may skate on charges of desertion and misbehavior because he still has defenders in the White House, says a former CIA station chief.

"We're going to have to wait for a legal outcome here on this case, but the administration has a lot vested in this," Gary Berntsen, who led the CIA hunt in Tora Bora for Osama bin Laden, said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"The administration made the mistake — a terrible national security error — of trading five hardened terrorists for a young man that has now been charged with deserting and acting poorly in front of the enemy — essentially a worse charge than desertion," said Berntsen.

"I would not be surprised if the White House doesn't look for some political way here to intervene — there are things that can be done, unfortunately," said Berntsen, senior national security adviser for Concerned Veterans for America and author of "Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander."

That list of options includes a presidential pardon, he said.

Captured by the Taliban and held for five years, Bergdahl was freed last May in a controversial U.S. deal with the militants, who got five of their own released from Guantanamo Bay.

The Obama administration hailed Bergdahl's homecoming as a win — and was immediately contradicted by Bergdahl platoon mates, who called him a deserter.

Reports also surfaced that at least six U.S. soldiers were killed in action searching for Bergdahl after his disappearance.

"He caused a lot of suffering among members of the military," said Berntsen. "It is heartbreaking for the losses that those family members took."

Some soldiers want Bergdahl to be executed if he is convicted.

But Berntsen said discussions of a presidential pardon after the fact for Bergdahl are starting to bubble up.

"This has been a political show by the White House," he said. "It should never have done what it did. It should've never made that trade. It released five of the worst killers on the planet for this man, and my understanding is that there was little attempt at negotiation."

He said the deal announced by President Barack Obama last spring with Bergdahl's parents by his side was the White House "assuming that the American people would celebrate."

"Aside from the fact that people on the ground were calling him a deserter," said Berntsen, "and a lot of other things had been reported within classified channels that I can't even discuss.

"The military recognized and knew all of this, the administration slow-rolled all of this, but really what we need is a day in court," said Berntsen, adding that "as slow as this process has been — and it's been slow because of the intervention, clearly, of the White House — let this man have his day in court."

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Bowe Bergdahl "caused a lot of suffering among members of the military" after he walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 — and he still may skate on charges of desertion and misbehavior because he still has defenders in the White House, says a former CIA station chief.
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Friday, 27 Mar 2015 05:32 PM
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