Bowe Bergdahl pled guilty to desertion charges Monday afternoon. The former private also pled guilty to endangering troops who searched for him after the Taliban kidnapped him in 2009 just hours after he walked away from his post in rural Afghanistan. The 31-year-old’s decision to plead guilty is not part of any deal with prosecutors, according to The New York Times.
In 2014, President Barack Obama traded five Gauntanamo detainees to get Bergdahl back from the terrorist group. When Obama announced the United States had negotiated for Bergdahl’s return, he did so alongside Bowe’s parents at the White House Rose Garden during a televised press event. Bowe’s father opened his remarks then by saying his son was having trouble speaking English, recited a phrase from the Koran in Arabic, then continued to speak in Pashto, the primary language of Taliban fighters.
After the Obama administration met criticism over this deal, the White House doubled down. In an ABC interview in 2014, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction,” and many liberals were quick to paint him as an American hero.
The deal to get Bergdahl back was part of the Obama administration’s efforts to quickly end the war in Afghanistan and bring troops home. It was also related to Obama’s campaign promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay.