By Greg Richter
The U.S. Army’s report on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will show he deserted, but not that he is a traitor, two military analysts familiar with the case told Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The report was completed in October, but has yet to be released to the public. Bergdahl walked away from his base in Afghanistan and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years.
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He was released earlier this year in a controversial trade for five Taliban leaders being held at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who said he played a role in one of three methods the United States considered in bringing Bergdahl back, told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly on Thursday he has heard the final report mirrors the initial Naval Criminal Investigative Service report from 2009, just after Bergdahl was taken captive.
Col. David Hunt says he has heard the same thing, adding that the report likely will be released on Jan. 16. That would be about a week and a half after the new Republican Congress is sworn in, and would be on a Friday, when stories are less likely to get wide media coverage.
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Conservatives have charged that the report’s release was delayed to avoid hurting Democrats in the November primaries. President Barack Obama initially held a Rose Garden ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents, but the good points quickly soured when some platoon mates said Bergdahl had deserted his post.
Hunt said the real issue will be whether Bergdahl will be found to be a traitor. He told O’Reilly that he has been told Bergdahl will not be charged as a traitor and will be given a less-than-honorable discharge.
He also will not be required to refund the $300,000 in back pay he received during his captivity.
Shaffer and Hunt both said they oppose that decision. Shaffer said Bergdahl did as much damage as Pvt. Bradley Manning, who leaked military secrets online.
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And Bergdahl’s damage was more direct, Shaffer said.
“People died looking for him,” he said. “I feel he gave aid and comfort to the enemy, the Taliban, and then forced us to do some really stupid things to get [him] back.”
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