The bad taste of Bowe Bergdahl still lingers in the brains of many American citizens. While the details of how he came to be held captive by the Taliban are sketchy at best and point to desertion on his part, the price America had to pay to get him back was unheard of.
President Obama released 5 high ranking Taliban leaders whom have been accused of the most atrocious crimes in exchange for Bergdahl.
Deserting his post and his fellow soldiers has finally caught up to Bergdahl. He is being formally charged by the military with desertion. In addition, prosecutors have dug deep into the law (all the way back to WW2) to charge Bergdahl with a rare crime that carries a much stiffer penalty than desertion.
According to Militarytimes.com, the military will also charge Bergdahl with “misbehavior before the enemy”. The charge of misbehavior before the enemy accuses the deserter with the military’s version of reckless endangerment when he “left without authority; and wrongfully caused search and recovery operations.”
‘Misbehavior before the enemy’ is a charge that hasn’t been used since World War 2. Walter Huffman, retired major general who was once the Army’s top lawyer has never seen the charge used before, “It’s not something you find in common everyday practice in the military.”
The charge was originally implemented in Europe during WW2 to prosecute cases of cowardice. In order for the charge to stick, the military prosecutors will need to prove that he deliberately deserted and that his actions put soldiers who searched for him in harm’s way.
Lawrence Morris, a retired Army colonel and former prosecutor and defender said, "You're able to say that what he did had a particular impact or put particular people at risk. It is less generic than just quitting."
The charge of desertion would bring a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. The charge of misbehavior before the enemy could lead to a sentence of life in prison.