• Reports Surface That White House Knew All Along About Bergdahl’s Desertion

    Contrary to some media speculation, top military leadership knew as early as late 2009 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s had deserted.

    During an open-book question and answer session in Afghanistan, members of Bergdahl’s platoon directly asked then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen whether he was aware of Bergdahl’s desertion.

    Mullen “told me that he knew of the circumstances surrounding his walking off,” former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, one of the platoon members, told Fox News, and “that they were developing leads and following leads, trying to do everything they could to get him back.”

    Evan Buetow and Cody Full, also platoon members, confirmed the account.

    Mullen was very candid about his knowledge, and according to Vierkant. Although Mullen’s statement could be interpreted as somewhat vague, given the circumstances, there is little doubt that Mullen knew.

    “[H]e didn’t want to give us some political answer,” Vierkant stated.

    An official who was travelling with Mullen in Afghanistan during 2009 told Fox that Mullen had a habit of speaking very candidly to troops.

    What’s significant is that at the time, Mullen was responsible for reporting to both President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Though it is possible she was left in the dark, National Security Adviser Susan Rice almost certainly would have been informed. However, as late as 2014, Susan Rice decided to say that Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.” She repeatedly defended those remarks, and in an appearance on CNN with Jim Acosta, stated that she was referring to Bergdahl’s decision to enter the service.

    Interestingly, she stated firmly that, “This is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about.”

    It seems Rice may have been left in the dark.

    Shortly after Bergdahl was swapped in exchange for five Taliban commanders, the White House invited his parents to a Rose Garden ceremony.

    While it’s technically possible that Mullen kept the knowledge to himself and declined to pass it up the chain of command, Brad Blakeman, former member of George W. Bush’s senior staff, told Fox News that “At a minimum, this would have been included in the president’s daily brief, and at a maximum, it would’ve been told directly to the president by Mullen.”

    Mullen, however, told Fox News that the U.S. military was intent on finding Bergdahl and that at the time, the “exact circumstance were not known then, nor did they drive our decisions.”

    Bergdahl, having been charged with two counts under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, is set to face a military court martial in the summer. Initial hearings will begin on July 8. Those charges are not yet convictions.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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