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Bergdahl and Lakin

imageThe pre-trial hearing of Robert Bowdrie “Bowe” Berg­dahl (pictured right) has been all over the news lately. I won’t recount his story here, but you can read the Wikipedia article on him for details. Today the court heard testimony from imageMajor General Kenneth Dahl who had led the investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance from his post in Afghanistan 6 years ago. Listening to the news reports, I could not help but be reminded of Terry Lakin (pictured left), the Army doctor and birther who served a prison term for not reporting for duty. Let me point out some items of similarity:

  • Lakin and Bergdahl were highly regarded as soldiers by their peers.
  • Lakin and Bergdahl had concerns about leadership. Lakin thought that the Commander in Chief (Obama) might not be legitimate. Bergdahl though his local commander was incompetent and corrupt.
  • Lakin and Bergdahl staged an act of disobedience to force the issue. Lakin didn’t show up to deploy with his unit to Afghanistan. Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan.
  • Both were charged with crimes by the Army.
  • Lakin and Bergdahl both had delusions that their act would resolve their issues. Lakin thought that his trial would adjudicate Obama’s eligibility. Bergdahl thought that he would walk 24 mines across Taliban held territory to reach a larger command post where he could talk to a General about the leadership problems he saw.
  • Lakin and Bergdahl’s actions put their units at risk. Lakin, a physician, didn’t deploy with his unit, forcing the Army to call up a less prepared doctor to go to Afghanistan. Bergdahl’s actions caused his unit to spend several days in dangerous territory looking for him.
  • Lakin and Bergdahl both admit that what they did was misguided.

Terry Lakin was given a 6 month sentence (which he has served), and was dismissed from service. Bergdahl was held in horrific conditions by the Taliban for 5 years and faces a possible life sentence.

17 Responses to Bergdahl and Lakin

  1. avatar
    Paula September 18, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    Please read Michael Hastings article in Rolling Stone 6/7/2012 Bowe Bergdahl: America’s Last Prisoner of War.

  2. avatar
    Sluffy1 September 18, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    Reuters
    18 Sep 2015

    Major General Kenneth Dahl, who led the military’s investigation of Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture, also said Bergdahl was not a Taliban sympathizer. Dahl characterized Bergdahl as unrealistically idealistic soldier who left his post to report concerns about his unit’s leadership to a general at another base.

    Testifying for the defense, Terrence Russell, an expert with the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, said Bergdahl suffered torture, abuse and neglect at the hands of Taliban forces, including months of beatings.

    After the beatings, Bergdahl was held for 3-1/2 years in a metal cage barely big enough to stand in, living in isolation and often blindfolded, Russell testified. Any more beatings would have killed him, Russell said.

    “His experience ranks at the same echelon of the most horrible conditions of the last 60 years,” said Russell, who debriefed Bergdahl after the soldier was freed by the Taliban in 2014 in exchange for the U.S. release of five Taliban prisoners held at the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Russell has debriefed about 125 U.S. POWs, isolated people and detainees.

    Bergdahl never gave up trying to escape despite living in deplorable conditions in which he was first beaten and then left to waste away, Russell said.

    Russell dismissed as outrageous claims that Bergdahl was a Taliban sympathizer or tried to dishonor the military.

    “He had to fight the enemy alone for four years and 11 months,” he said at the hearing, occasionally wiping back tears.

  3. avatar
    Jon Beck September 18, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    Mr Bergdahl would be on stronger ground with the right wing nut jobs if he had gone on a “I hate Obama” tirade.

  4. avatar
    Notorial Dissent September 19, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    I don’t believe that Bergdahl is a sympathizer, I don’t know if he is really a deserter as opposed to technical one, but I do believe that he is really incredibly, unbelievably mind blowingly stupid.

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Hence the comparison with Terry Lakin.

    Notorial Dissent: I do believe that he is really incredibly, unbelievably mind blowingly stupid.

  6. avatar
    john September 19, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    Interesting comparisons between Bergdahl and Lakin but it does leave out one very important part…culpability. The culpability in Lakin’s case is far less that of Bergdahl. I believe Lakin was strung along by bad legal advise and birthers so Lakin’s culpability was only about 60/40 – Lakin 60 and Birthers 40. That’s probably why Lakin got such a light sentence and why Puckett worked hard on Lakin to admit his guilt, I guess he was trying to reduce culpability and apparently it worked. In Bergdahl’s case, the culpability is far greater and Bergdahl acted alone.

  7. avatar
    Lupin September 20, 2015 at 5:44 am #

    john: Lakin was strung along by bad legal advise and birthers so Lakin’s culpability was only about 60/40 – Lakin 60 and Birthers 40.

    I think you have an odd view of “culpability”.

    I suppose someone who robs a bank to feed his starving children will be able to show more mitigating circumstances than one who does it purely out of lucre, but their culpability remains the same (assuming indisputable evidence).

    I’m not qualified to assess the respective consequences of and damages inflicted by Larkin’s and Bergdahl’s desertions, but their culpability remains the same. As for their motives, I don’t quite see Larkin’s motives are inherently nobler or better intentioned than Bergdahl’s.

  8. avatar
    john September 20, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    Lupin: I think you have an odd view of “culpability”.

    I suppose someone who robs a bank to feed his starving children will be able to show more mitigating circumstances than one who does it purely out of lucre, but their culpability remains the same (assuming indisputable evidence).

    I’m not qualified to assess the respective consequences of and damages inflicted by Larkin’s and Bergdahl’s desertions, but their culpability remains the same. As for their motives, I don’t quite see Larkin’s motives are inherently nobler or better intentioned than Bergdahl’s.

    Lakin did not act completely alone, he was strung along. It was Jensen who helped him make his Youtube video and his telling off of Col. West was based on Legal advice. I also disagree with the motives. The motives of Bergdahl appeared to be based his own personal disillusioned views and opinions. Lakin’s motives was a concern that was shared by millions (And are still shared) of people including retired millitary and even active duty. Some did take the steps Lakin did but stopped short. Lakin was the only one who took that one step further, and it was mostly in part based poor legal advice and the egging on from birthers.

  9. avatar
    Punchmaster via Mobile September 20, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    john: millions

    That’s a strange way to spell “dozens”.

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 20, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    I agree that there were external factors pushing Lakin in the wrong direction, but on the other hand one would expect an Army officer to have better judgment than Lakin showed.

    If you want to argue extenuating circumstances, then the best I can think of in the Lakin case is that he’s a birther. That alone shows a serious mental defect and lack of judgment.

    john: Lakin was the only one who took that one step further, and it was mostly in part based poor legal advice and the egging on from birthers.

  11. avatar
    Rickey September 20, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    john:Some did take the steps Lakin did but stopped short.Lakin was the only one who took that one step further, and it was mostly in part based poor legal advice and the egging on from birthers.

    Military officers are supposed to be able to resist being egged on by others. Lakin has only himself to blame for his actions. He violated his oath and he endangered his fellow soldiers by forcing them to serve with a medical officer who was ill-prepared for deployment to a combat zone.

    Lakin got exactly what he deserved – in fact, less than what he deserved. He got off lightly.

  12. avatar
    Notorial Dissent September 21, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    I didn’t follow the Lakin case very much other than cursorily since I quite frankly didn’t care. I thought he was an ass at the time, and my opinion of him hasn’t changed, well except that I think he’s a really self destructive stupid ass at this point from what I have since learned.. I can’t honestly say whether he really is or was a birther, but something about him and his actions leads me to that conclusion, or at least that he was leaning that direction. He was an officer, and is a doctor, both of which take a good deal of time and training to achieve. I would assume, and reports seem to so indicate, that he was at the very least competent at what he did. How he managed to get through OTS and not know and understand the chain of command I have a very hard time imagining or believing, unless he just slept through it all, so I have to go with he knew it, and understood it, and chose to disregard it as it was inconvenient with what he wanted to believe at the time. Which makes him culpable for disobedience to orders at the very least, he did know better than what he was claiming. What I have never been satisfied with is whether he came up with this nonsense before or after he got orders to go back, evidence seems to be that it was after, and I don’t know if he came up with it all on his own or if he had help at the time. Not that either is an excuse. My impression from all of this is that he had more ego than sense, and let his ego lead him down the path to career suicide. Everything about this man says that he should have been smarter than that and should have known better. Anyone who has been in the military any length of time knows how the system works and usually how to work it. So again, I have to put his little stunt as just dumber than dumb, I can’t imagine how he could have thought it would end any different than it did. What he did is just not something you do in the military and expect to keep your rank and your freedom. Just plain damn dumb. He put himself where he ended up all by himself, and all things considered I do think he got a whole lot less than he deserved.

    Bergdahl on the other hand should have known what the COC was and how it was supposed to be done, should have, not necessarily did. My impression from everything I’ve seen so far is that he was good natured, likable, sincere, and not even remotely the sharpest knife in the drawer. I think he was incredibly stupid and naive, but honestly just stupid, something I can’t say about Lakin.

  13. avatar
    AgRod September 21, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    Jon Beck:
    Mr Bergdahl would be on stronger ground with the right wing nut jobs if he had gone on a “I hate Obama” tirade.

    Exactly. Just another case of disgrace where the far right wing led by am hate radio actually wanted the Taliban to kill him and not returned to the US. It is a blind hatred of anything even remotely connected to Obama.

  14. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) September 22, 2015 at 4:07 am #

    Notorial Dissent: so I have to go with he knew it, and understood it, and chose to disregard it as it was inconvenient with what he wanted to believe at the time

    Yup. He deliberately participated in an attempted publicity stunt to “blow the thing wide open”. He was likely misled by his counsel as to the probability of success.

  15. avatar
    Paula September 23, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    And what about that traitor Petraeus….he got off with a wrist slap but watch what will happen to Bergdahl

  16. avatar
    Notorial Dissent September 26, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Again, with the traitor claims. Petraeus was a VERY stupid older man who let himself be flattered by a much younger woman and did some incredibly stupid, apparently to keep her interested, and self destructive things. i don’t think what he did rose anywhere near to the level of treason, but it was highly illegal and as I said incredibly stupid, and he had no case for saying he didn’t know better. He certainly would have court martialed a subordinate who made such an error. I agree, I think he got what was basically a handslap, but he destroyed his career and his reputation, so he didn’t come out of it lightly.

  17. avatar
    Paula September 27, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    His career is not destroyed…he has all his Stars and Stripes, his pension, and perks and he still goes before congress as a military expert.