'Deserter,' 'traitor,' 'soldier': Readers react to Sgt. Bergdahl's release

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comJune 4, 2014 

The return of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — the only American soldier in captivity in Afghanistan, held by the Haqqani Taliban network for almost five years — was not a simple operation. Defense officials have reportedly been communicating with the terrorist group for years.

Our readers’ reactions to Bergdahl’s release were equally complicated.

“He doesn’t deserve freedom, he is a deserter and a traitor,” Dave Norris wrote on our Facebook page, in a thread extending for almost 50 comments.

Norris’ comments were echoed by several other readers.

The Pentagon has not completed an official investigation, but it has been repeatedly reported that Bergdahl deserted his unit before being captured in 2009. He was disillusioned with the war effort, according to personal emails obtained by Rolling Stone.

In exchange for Bergdahl’s release, President Obama will release five high-level Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay, after they are held in Qatar for another year.

“However it happened I’m glad this American soldier is home, and whatever his reasons were for deserting, he’s still an American and deserves freedom,” reader Nathan Carver said.

His perspective was uncommon among our readers. Instead, dissatisfaction — sometimes scalding — reigned.

“A 5 to 1 terrorist exchange. Worst ‘negotiation’ ever … Our government has just spit on the graves of true American heroes,” Kevin Webb wrote.

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