Pentagon Spokesman Aims to 'Put a Fork' in Report That Bergdahl Faces Charges

By Susan Jones | January 28, 2015 | 6:31am EST

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army soldier, went missing from his outpost in Afghanistan in June 2009 and was released from Taliban captivity on May 31, 2014 in exchange for five enemy combatants held in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP Photo/IntelCenter, File)

(Update: Pentagon spokesman Kirby made the round of morning news shows Tuesday, repeating that no decision has been made about charging Bergdahl. On Fox & Friends, he rejected the suggestion that the Pentagon is under pressure to delay charges -- that politics has something to do with it: "Oh my goodness, no. That is the most ludicrous claim I've heard in the past several days," Kirby said.)

( - "Sergeant Bergdahl has not been charged with any crime," a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday.

Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters he's received "lots of emails and questions" about reports that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held for five years after he apparently walked away from his unit in Afghanistan in 2009.

"So let me just put a fork in this right now, if I can," Kirby said. "No decision has been made with respect to the case of Sergeant Bergdahl. None. And there is no timeline to make that decision," Kirby said.

He added that Army Gen. Mark Milley, who has the authority to convene a court martial, "is not being put under any pressure to make a decision, either way," and he "is still very much in a deliberative process here...and has come to no conclusions and has made no decisions."

Kirby called it "extraordinarily premature" for anyone to say what Gen. Milley is going to decide, when he's going to decide it and then when he plans to announce it. "We're just not there in the process," he said.

Bergdahl's platoon mates have publicly denounced Bergdahl a deserter.

Many Americans were outraged when President Obama, in a special Rose Garden appearance last May, announced that the U.S. had released five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl's freedom. President Obama, flanked by Bergdahl's parents, called Bergdahl a prisoner of war, and a State Department spokesman reminded reporters of that on Tuesday:

"Our position is that he was a prisoner of war and a member of the United States military," Jen Psaki said at Tuesday's briefing.

For Bergdahl to be charged with desertion would make the president look bad, and that may explain why the investigation into Bergdahl's activities is taking so long.

As reported, the Army began its investigation into Bergdahl's capture by the Taliban in mid-June 2014. Four months later, the results of that investigation were turned over to commanders for review -- but the findings were not released to the public before the midterm election.

Now, seven months after the Army probe began, there's still no word on when the public will get the facts surrounding Bergdahl's disappearance and President Obama's decision to treat him as a returning hero.

Kirby on Tuesday refused to speculate on Bergdahl's case. But he did tell reporters, "There are different categories of desertion, of varying -- varying severity. And depending on what one is charged with and one is found guilty of, punishments can be, you know, can be less or more severe. They can come with -- they certainly could come -- a guilty finding in a case of desertion could certainly come with lengthy prison time."

Also See:
Army Completes Probe Into Bergdahl's Alleged Desertion--No Results Before Election

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