Investigation Leader says Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Should Not Face Jail Time
San Antonio, Texas – The Army general who led the investigation into Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan testified Friday that jail time would be “inappropriate” for the soldier captured and held five years by the Taliban.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl said he interviewed Bowe for a day and a half and “did not find any evidence to corroborate the reporting that Bergdahl was … sympathetic to the Taliban.”
Instead, Dahl said, Bergdahl wanted to call attention to what he considered poor leadership of his unit. Bergdal believed that by leaving his observation post and running 23 kilometers (about 14 miles) to a nearby base he could cause a stir and gain access to a high-ranking officer to complain, Dahl said.
Dahl testified at an Army Article 32 preliminary hearing held to determine whether Bergdahl will face a court-martial. If his case goes to court-martial and he is found guilty, Bergdahl faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison.
Bergdahl will not testify, defense attorney Eugene Fidell told the military court at Joint Base San Antonio.
Bergdahl vanished in June 2009 after deserting his unit, authorities said.
The incident set off a series of events that included his five-year capture by the Taliban. President Barack Obama later freed five members of the terror network held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl last year.
As part of the controversial prisoner swap, Bergdahl returned to the United States. In March, the military charged him with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
‘Unrealistic expectations of people’
Dahl testified that he thought Bergdahl was “very bright and well-read.”
When asked what in Bergdahl’s background might have caused his behavior in the military, Dahl said that the combination of growing up in rural Idaho on the “edge of the grid … being home-schooled” and the fact that he “internalized a lot of what he read” resulted in him having “idealistic and unrealistic expectations of people.”
Though Bergdahl was not duty-bound to comply with the investigation, he did and submitted to a day and a half interview. Bergdahl did exercise his right to silence at the start of the interview, Dahl said.
Dahl said he didn’t “believe there is a jail sentence at the end of this process.”
The last witness from the Bergdhahl defense team was Terrence Russell, a civilian who works for the Department of Defense Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Russell debriefed Bergdahl.
Russell said Bergdahl experienced “horrific” conditions and that his “experience ranks in the same echelon of horrible conditions that we have not seen in 60 years,” referring to troops held in Vietnam.
He described Bergdhahl as “an army of one, he had to fight the enemy alone for 4 years 11 months. You cannot overestimate how difficult that is. “
The hearing began Thursday, when government prosecutors called witnesses who represented Bergdahl’s chain of command.
His former platoon leader, Capt. John Paul Billings, recounted soldiers awakening him early to say Bergdahl was missing.
“I didn’t really know what to say. I was in shock, in absolute disbelief that I couldn’t find one of my own men. It’s a hard thing to swallow,” Billings said, adding that a squad immediately went out to look for him.
On cross-examination, Billings said Bergdahl appeared to be completely normal the day before he disappeared, that he had been dedicated to the mission and had an outstanding record of performance.
The defense asked the platoon leader whether he had been made aware that Bergdahl had a psychological discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard, or that Bergdahl “possessed a severe mental disease or defect?”
Billings said he would have recommended Bergdahl to specialist care if he had known of any such mental issue.
During the hearing, Berghdahl sat at a long table with his civilian and military defense attorneys. He spent much of the proceedings looking down as he took notes on a pad in his lap.
Prisoner swap criticized
Some in the military and those who fought alongside Bergdahl in Afghanistan blasted the prisoner swap deal.
Obama has hailed Bergdahl’s safe return to the United States.
“Sgt. Bergdahl has missed birthdays and holidays and the simple moments with family and friends,” the President said when the soldier returned.
A court-martial would put the White House in a precarious situation. It has steadfastly defended the decision to recover Bergdahl amid backlash from Republicans and some who served with him in Afghanistan.
At the time of his recovery, U.S. officials said Obama’s national security team was unanimous in its support of the prisoner exchange that ultimately returned Bergdahl to the United States.
Concerns about his physical health prompted them to circumvent a requirement to notify Congress about pending prisoner releases, authorities said at the time.
Obama cited a “sacred rule” in attempting to rescue American servicemen and -women, no matter the circumstances surrounding their capture.
“We still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop. We don’t condition that,” he said at the time.
Some members of Bergdahl’s unit have accused him of purposely abandoning his post before being captured in remote Afghanistan. Some suggested the U.S. effort to rescue him was misguided.
Allegations that he abandoned his post were well-known before his rescue became public, though they hadn’t yet been subject to the type of Army investigation that followed his return.
The White House has expressed no regret at the decision to swap the Idaho native with Taliban prisoners.
80 Million Stimulus Check Direct Deposits Have Been Processed. When Will They Arrive?
Americans will start to see their stimulus payments this week, a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion rescue package meant to provide a buffer against the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered much of the U.S. economy.
The Internal Revenue Service has begun sending $1,200 payments to middle and lower income adults, plus $500 for their minor children, though it could take until September for every eligible person to get the money.
The first payments “should be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts; the precise date you will see payments in your account depends on how long individual banks typically take to process direct deposits,” according to a press release from House Ways and Means Committee Republicans.
The IRS will first send the money to individuals for whom the agency has direct deposit information. The remainder will be mailed as checks. That process is expected to begin April 20 but could take until the fall to complete.
The IRS processed more than 80 million payments on Friday that should be available in bank accounts early this week, Sunita Lough, the IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said in a video conference Monday.
Payments will be made first to those earning the least.
The IRS has launched a tool for non-tax filers, such as those who had income under $12,200 last year and weren’t required to file a federal return, to enter direct deposit information to get their payments.
The agency plans to have a second website up by April 17 that will show people the status of their payments, including the date the money is scheduled to be deposited or mailed. That tool will also let people who’ve typically gotten their tax refund in the mail to provide their bank account details to get their stimulus payment more quickly.
The IRS is using information from 2018 and 2019 tax returns to process the payments. It says taxpayers who’ve yet to file a return this year should do so as soon as possible, and elect to receive the refund via a direct deposit. The information can then be used to distribute the stimulus payments. Social Security and disability recipients will receive their payments automatically.
The tax deadline was extended to July 15 from April 15 to give people more time to file and pay during the pandemic.
Taxpayers who don’t need extra time and who expect to get a stimulus payment should file as soon as possible so the agency has their most up-to-date details on file, said Christina Taylor, head of operations for Credit Karma Tax.
“The quicker, the better,” she said.
Americans earning $75,000 or less, or $150,000 and below as a couple, are eligible for the full $1,200 payout per adult, plus $500 for each child under 17. Those amounts are reduced for people with higher incomes, and people who make $99,000 or more in earnings (or $198,000 for a couple) get nothing, even if they have children. Individuals must have a Social Security number to receive a payment.
A Case of Hantavirus Has Been Reported in China. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry.
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming…
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming.
Hantaviruses are a family of virus that spread through rodents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Yunnan Province, a man died on his way back to Shandong Province, according to Global Times, an English-language Chinese news outlet.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” the news outlet tweeted.
The tweet, sent amid a pandemic caused by a new coronavirus, has been shared more than 15,000 times.
Though countries across the globe are on high alert due to uncertainty around the coronavirus, there is no indication that the hantavirus poses a global public health threat.
According to the CDC, hantavirus cases are rare, and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
Certain kinds of rats and mice in the United States can carry the virus, which is transmitted when someone breathes in contaminated air.
“The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another,” the CDC says on its website. Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus, the CDC says.
In the U.S., the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. Coughing and shortness of breath can occur later in the disease as the lungs fill with liquid, the CDC says,
Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, found mostly in Europe and Asia, can also occur, which causes pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision, the CDC says. More serious symptoms include acute kidney failure.
Cases in the United States have typically been concentrated in the western and southwestern states.
From 1993 to 2017, there were only 728 confirmed hantavirus cases in the United States, with most being non-fatal, according to CDC data. In comparison, since late January, when the first known coronavirus case was identified in the U.S., there have been 46,805 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
In May 1993, a hantavirus outbreak occurred in an area between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. A 2012 outbreak in Yosemite sickened 10 people. In seven states, 17 people were infected in a 2017 outbreak.
Developments in Presidential Race, Trump does Terribly at Forum as Clinton shines
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States…
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States.
First of all, Donald Trump, according to Kristina Vong’s article at Thehill.com, wrongly corrected a veteran Marine during a forum. The veteran, a woman named Rachel Fredericks, asked Mr. Trump how he plans to stop 20 veterans from committing suicide, daily. Trump tried to correct the woman, who needed no correction. He said it is actually 22, trying to emerge correct, when he was essentially incorrect.
Mr. Trump also does not have a real plan to defeat ISIS, as “his plan is to have a plan” according to Igor Bobic at the Huffington Post. He also insulted military leaders calling them embarrassments to the country when they were under President Obama. He wants to give the generals 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. Of course, this even makes it more obvious that Mr. Trump does not have a plan to defeat ISIS. Why, then did he call our current president the founder of ISIS? How can you give your vote to someone so unprepared and unfit for the presidency that constitutes a whole country? Sorry to say, but Donald Trump is not someone to vote for, at least not as US President!
According to Sean Colarossi at PoliticusUSA.com, a presidential forum highlighted how prepared Trump and Clinton are compared to each other, with Clinton appearing as the more prepared one, very easily. Clinton was engaged with questions, expressed gratitude, and was very prolific and intelligible in her responses. To reiterate, Trump has not a plan to defeat ISIS, where Hillary has a well thought-out plan. She outlined her plan, entailing it could take any form and she iterated and supports the idea that terror suspects should not be able to purchase firearms. Clinton also covered issues like mental health, illuminating the fact that it is overlooked, and mental health should no longer be stigmatized and victims of mental disorders should have access to resources. On the other hand, Trump gave generic answers like that he knows what is going on in the world. Also according to Colarossi’s article, Trump showed as an “empty suit” and “showed he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief” and that the contrast between him and Clinton could not be clearer”; this essentially means Clinton showed to be immensely more prepared to lead and did not focus on attacking others, like Trump’s approach does.
Lastly, Donald Trump has insulted women, children, ethnic groups, religious groups, his opponent, our current president, the military, and the list goes on. He is patronizing and unprepared to preside over our country as well. He constantly attacks others, with no action in mind. Consider if you want to have him as president, seriously!
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