Conway: Deserters should be treated differently when it comes to negotiations

Former commandant, retired Gen. James T. Conway said Bergdahl should not have been valued the same as most other POWs.

Former commandant, retired Gen. James T. Conway said Bergdahl should not have been valued the same as most other POWs.

Above the debate churning around the Bowe Bergdahl saga seems to be the notion that the U.S. should always seek to bring every service member home. Not so fast, says one former commandant.

In an appearance this weekend on Fox News, retired Gen. James T. Conway talked about the recently recovered soldier and all the context surrounding his return to the U.S. Bergdahl had been in the hands of the Haqqani network of the Taliban ever since he had wandered off base five years ago. Reports and evidence suggest he left of his own will, investigations have yet to determine if or to what degree he potentially sought out and cooperated with the Taliban.

Conway told Fox’s Neil Cavuto that it was pretty clear Bergdahl had deserted his unit, and as such, should not have received such a concerted effort on behalf of Washington.

“He broke his oath to his nation. He broke his loyalty to his fellow soldiers and walked off a post that was undermanned in very serious bad guy country,” said Conway. “When a man is a deserter, I think that puts him in a special status, and it’s just not the same as soldier or a Marine that’s perhaps been captured on a patrol or taken during an ambush. I think the value is simply less … Frankly I think there is too high a value on getting him back at all costs.”

Of the five Taliban officers released in the Bergdahl deal, Conway said, “I think you’re probably going to hear from them again.”

His sentiment was later echoed by NBC’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, who, citing military sources, called the chances of the released Taliban officers stirring up trouble again “inevitable.”

interview with Conway on YouTube here.


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  1. Steve Marinko on

    I agree 110% with General Conway, deserters are cowards and should not be exchanged for other prisoners especially like the 5 high profile ones he was exchanged for. It’s just obama once again showing his lack of leadership and embarrassing our great country that he is bent on trying to destroy.

  2. Many Americans cannot stomach even the slimmest possibility that our only returned American captive of this miserable and lost war mite at the same time be a deserter. The two concepts don’t go together and stick in the craw. American fighting-men/women are supposed to be honorable and fight and die in the service of their country even if they personally object to the war/mission. Of course the perp deserves to be brought home and deserves due process. Until then he gets good old-fashioned public opinion, which is not due process, but which is also the American-way. People have the right and duty to look at whatever information available (not much from our government in this case) and come to an opinion which they are free to express. Don’t knock public opinion as that’s all it is – free speech.

  3. Due process that’s funny. Who are you trying to kidd Tom. You sound like a dirtbag politician or a lawyer. “Due process”. your retarded.

  4. We all know that he will never get the chance at “due process” as a jury of his peers (or “members” in a General Court-Martial) is unlikely impossible to find as polls have shown that out of 8000 respondents, 96% support the pursuant of a court martial (Source: Of the 8000 that responded, it is unreported how much are on active duty to render statistics around how many believe he should face charges.

    Unfortunately, it’s in my opinion that this will never see the light of a trial.

    Reasoning behind this is that it makes the current administration look horrible in the release of 5 terrorist-inmates for the potential of 1 new inmate at Fort Leavenworth.

    It is said to cost $800,000 to house 1 prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, the highest cost of all detention centers the United States operates (Source: NationOfChange.Org). However, this includes figures of personnel assigned to the duty station, and not solely per terrorist incarcerated. If you have been on active duty, you are aware that no matter where you are, training for your service related job is conducted, as is other military training. Due to this, It’s believed that the exchange will not save the tax payers $4 million a year.

    I was unable to look up figures on exactly how much it costs to house an inmate at Fort Leavenworth, which most likely is where Bergdahl would be initially confined, if convicted, but it is most likely considerably less. However, one must consider the “due process” tribunal costs of a General Court-Martial as it will take years to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is a traitor and a deserter.

    This is because the defense attorneys will nit-pick each person who testifies in the case against him, including his platoon mates. Since accounts vary so much; even if they were to ‘get on the same page’, they may end up getting caught up in a perjury scandal with more active and non-active duty members being charged, pursuant with the objective to put Bergdahl away. This would be a huge blow to the Administration, Department of Defense and Army in general. Not to mention, it would cost millions more in taxpayer dollars alone.

    May I also remind you that since the Fort Hood shooting in November of 2009, the “suspected” Major Nidal Hasan has been getting paid all along; which is quite possibly above the $300,000 that Bergdahl will quite possibly receive in retroactive back pay, waiting to be proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt? There are witnesses; however, it’s a costly endeavor to put on a trial of this magnitude, let alone one against Bergdahl with witnesses that must have to recall time-specific events that date back 5 years.

    It’s a sad day for America when this administration makes a swap for a traitor, especially one who will get off scot-free, as the left side has already stated something along the lines that ‘5 years in captivity is enough time served’.

    Additionally with public opinion against this trade, it is unlikely that he will have a fair trial even in a civilian court. Because of this, a trial may never commence.

    I am just hoping that they only award the $300,000 retro-active back pay and that’s it. If he is additionally awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, this could subsequently open him up to a Purple Heart as if anyone is a PoW and ‘harmed’ while in captivity are given one as well. This opens him up to many more benefits. In addition, he could potentially receive 100% Veterans Affairs disability on top of medical retirement from the Army for his ‘Post Traumatic Stress’ endured. I don’t think that’s the case though, and serving 5 years with the enemy has set him up for a nice and early retirement with full benefits.

    A lot of this is factual information, though I am not a lawyer and is purely opinion and speculation. I hope that he does see trial, is convicted and does serve time. Furthermore, I hope that we’re able to track down; utilizing intelligence, the 5 terrorists we exchanged and capture them again. Costly, but it’s win-win. Except for the 9000 troops that Obama plans to leave behind without a signed security agreement. Any way this case goes, I believe it will have a huge impact on them and God bless their souls.

  5. Let us “assume” that Bergdahl was “walking ” outside the compound and was captured by the Taliban. Normally they would use him in videos and show him off as a prize captive. How come we never heard about him until he was “exchanged”?

    The Taiban told us which prisoners they wanted for him. They picked the one that would do them the most good. The US should have replied “We do not negotiate with terriorists.”

  6. Jeff I first heard about this incident back in 2009 and kept up with it. You need to seek information about world events more often.

  7. i’m a vet and i’ve done my time in combat and as far as i’m conserned he walked off and joined the taliban. wich is treason and he should have been shot not traded for


    I love Americans, especially our returning soldiers and those still there fighting.

    I wonder if any of those that believe or do not believe, Bergdahl is a traitor, deserter, or whatever, have forgotten that a man is innocent until proven guilty? How many of you people have already judged him and found him guilty or innocent?

    I fought in a war for this country, too. My opinion is that ONE of the principles that I fought for, that a man is innocent until proven guilty, was intrinsic to our Democratic Society and the Rule of Law.

    In the brutally harsh and politically charged environment of today’s media light, how quickly you people have abandoned American principles. You have publicly tried and convicted him or you have set him free without waiting for or actually hearing HIS side of the story.

    This is not to say no one has a right to their opinion, but to say that whatever your opinion, one should keep it PRIVATE. But, if you have to err, then, I say on the side of caution: say the man is innocent because, until there is a hearing, that is a FACT. I would never pronounce a man guilty before there is a verdict. With Bergdahl, there has not even been a TRIAL!

    Yet, here so many of you are, including this General, telling the world that he is guilty of desertion. When the facts are not fully known or placed into context yet.

    What is worse, I think, than that, is when you have not only pronounced the verdict, many of you have also passed sentence, too. Everything from Life in prison, a BCD and to a firing squad are on the table.

    All of you have become self-appointed juries, judges and executioners. And, in this public venue, far too many of you are proud of being just so.

    I have an opinion about Bergdahl’s situation that does not, directly, impact his guilt or innocence and it is THUS:

    We have not heard the entire Truth of this story. We may never hear it all. What I can say, in my considered opinion, is that, his fellow soldiers are not telling the complete Truth. There is more to what happened than they are letting on and, if what I suspect to be True is just so, then, we are going to be left with a bad taste in our mouths when, or if, it comes to light.

  9. I do believe we should have gotten him back….. was he worth 5 Taliban Commanders ….thats above my paygrade but I dont disagree with Gen Conway’s assessment. But as the war is winding down everybody in Hotel Gitmo will be freed. Remember he was a PFC and if he walked off as an American regardless we owe it to him to his family and to our sense of Military Brotherhood to look for him and get him back……slap the shit out of him and move on once we get him. I do believe his platoon members feel passionately upset with him and they have every right to but he was a PFC. Dont get me wrong I do believe he still needs to stand tall for desertion a 20 year sentence and maybe count five years as time served but if he deserted than he must stand tall and serve time.

  10. Michael Jardine but in the same manner you are saying innocent until proven guilty then what are you saying about his platoon members are they lying and exactly why would a General the former Commandant of the Marine Corps go on a limb to possibly get egg on his face if he didnt know details that we are not privy to as he was…

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