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Susan Rice: Bergdahl deserves a chance to tell his side

"This is a man whose circumstances we're still going to learn about. He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty. He is now being tried in the court of public opinion after having gone through an enormously traumatic five years of captivity."
By Aileen Graef Follow @AileenGraef Contact the Author   |   June 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France, June 6 (UPI) -- National Security Advisor Susan Rice defended Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl saying he shouldn't be "tried in the court of public opinion."

Rice said the administration fully believed Gen. Martin Dempsey's warning that it was their only chance to rescue him.

"We don't leave anybody on the battlefield regardless of the conditions of their capture. And as a prisoner of war, Bowe Bergdahl deserved, and we had the obligation and the commander-in-chief had an obligation to do what was necessary to bring him home," Rice told CNN.

Bergdahl was called a deserter by his fellow soldiers and has been under severe scrutiny from many lawmakers and the media. Rice said on the Sunday shows, the day after his release, that he served with honor and distinction. Despite public controversy, she stands by her statement.

"I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this. But what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing," said Rice.

Rice added that people should wait until he tells his side of the story before they rush to condemn him.

"This is a man whose circumstances we're still going to learn about. He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty. He is now being tried in the court of public opinion after having gone through an enormously traumatic five years of captivity," said Rice. "Let's know the facts, including his side of the story, and then we can make a judgment."

Rice said that once he is restored to health, he will be fully debriefed and the military will conduct a thorough review of the circumstances of his capture before making any judgement.

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