Wednesday, June 4, 2014

  • "There Were No Good Options": Bergdahl Should Get Honorable Discharge, Says Lawyer for Deserters

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    The Taliban has released a video showing the handover of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. Special Operations Forces in the deal that saw the U.S. exchange five high-ranking Taliban militants held at Guantánamo Bay. Despite winning the freedom of the only known U.S. prisoner of war, the deal has come under Republican attack amidst reports Bergdahl voluntarily left his base after growing opposed to the war in Afghanistan. Army officials say they will investigate whether Bergdahl engaged in misconduct, and several of the soldiers who served with him have taken to the media to call him a deserter. "[Bergdahl] is speaking as someone who has seen firsthand what the American imperial machine is all about … and is responding from a very core, visceral place," says James Branum, a lawyer who specializes in representing U.S. military deserters and conscientious objectors. "One can’t help be moved by that." Branum adds that most other soldiers convicted of desertion, including many of his clients, have received six- to 24-month sentences. "[Bergdahl] has already effectively served more jail time than anyone ever has in the modern era for desertion, in his time as a POW. Given that, there is no reason to punish him."

  • Is Bowe Bergdahl a Deserter? If Freed POW Left Post, He Joins Ranks of Soldiers Moved by Conscience

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    With freed American prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl now facing an Army probe into potential desertion, we are joined by Charles Glass, a historian and former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent. Glass’ book, "The Deserters: A Hidden History of the Second World War," tells the story of three men whose lives dramatize how the strain of war can push a soldier to the breaking point. They are among some 50,000 American soldiers who deserted in the European theater during World War II. "We have to understand what [Bergdahl] was going through," Glass says. "The young person at the front line, having believed in his country’s mission in Afghanistan and discovering it was not at all what he was told it was, and saw himself as part of the mechanism of oppression, of killing people, of going into villages, and when trying to take out enemy combatants was killing families. I hope that we’ll understand what he went through and have compassion for him and his family."

  • 5 Years After Dr. George Tiller’s Murder, a Doctor Braves Threats to Continue Abortions in Wichita

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    As Oklahoma enacts a law that could close all but one abortion clinic in the state — and Louisiana is poised to follow suit — we look at the legacy of Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated five years ago this past weekend. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors providing abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy. He braved constant threats, a firebombing at his clinic and an assassination attempt that left him with gunshot wounds to both arms. On May 31, 2009, anti-choice extremist Scott Roeder entered Tiller’s church in Wichita, Kansas, and shot him dead. We remember Tiller by speaking with Dr. Cheryl Chastine, who travels from Chicago to Wichita each week to provide abortions at Tiller’s former clinic, which reopened last year. Chastine discusses the obstacles to abortion access in Kansas and responds to the threats and harassment she and her colleagues face. "I get up in the morning, and there are patients that need me," Chastine says. "If I allow myself to be deterred from doing this work, then I am allowing a victory for terrorism."