Late last week, media outlets reported that Taliban forces had captured U.S. Army soldier Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. While the circumstances of his capture are not entirely known, Bergdahl said in a video released by his captors that he lagged behind a patrol, while other reports say he walked off a base with Afghan soldiers. In an appearance on Fox News earlier this week, retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters suggested that the Taliban should kill Bergdahl because he is an “apparent deserter.”
Last night on Fox, Peters walked back slightly from that comment (“I do hope for his family’s sake this guy comes back safely,” he said) but he continued to attack the missing U.S. soldier. “I asked a very senior military leader for a yes or no answer. Is PFC Bergdahl a deserter? The answer was yes,” Peters said, calling Bergdahl a liar. He and O’Reilly then repeatedly attacked Bergdahl’s mental capacity:
O’REILLY: He leaves his weapon and he goes out someplace. Number one that tells me that he is crazy, Colonel, that he is a nut. Nobody does that.
PETERS: He may be mentally disturbed. [...]
O’REILLY: It’s got to be I’m totally out of my mind. And that’s what I think this guy is. I think he is crazy.
Peters’ main contention, however, seems to be that Bergdahl has received media attention, while fallen soldiers do not. “I was angry when this broke because I felt the media were glorifying a guy who abandoned his buddies in combat,” he said, adding that “he shamed his unit” and “he lied for the enemy’s benefit.” Watch it:
Appalled at Peters’ original comment, CNN’s Rick Sanchez reported yesterday that Bergdahl is not a deserter. “Is the military saying that he’s a deserter in any way? We have checked. No, not at all,” Sanchez said.
NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski also reported yesterday that “senior Pentagon and military officials have ruled that out entirely, they say there is no evidence that he is a deserter.” Miklaszewski added that “they also point out that remarks like that are not the least bit helpful and in fact could endanger Pfc Bergdahl.”
Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH) and 22 other members of Congress wrote to Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes demanding “an apology to PFC Bergdahl’s family and to the thousands of soldiers who put their lives on the line for our country. As a member of the military family, Mr. Peters should measure his remarks and remember that the United States will never abandon one of its own.”