Poll: Majority of Americans believe Bergdahl should be charged if he deserted

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been the subject of heated controversy after the Obama administration swapped him for five Taliban detainees.
By Aileen Graef  |  June 11, 2014 at 5:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 73 percent of Americans believe that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl should face military charges if it's confirmed that he deserted his unit in Afghanistan.

The results also show that a majority of Americans (63 percent) oppose the deal to swap Bergdahl for the five Taliban detainees, up from 51 percent since it was suggested that he was a deserter. Only 28 percent still approve of the deal.

It's not just Republicans who are withdrawing support. Before desertion was factored into the equation, 62 percent of Democrats supported the deal. After it was mentioned, only 48 percent supported the swap. The decreasing poll numbers could prove to be problematic for the Obama administration.

Bergdahl, who is still recovering at a military hospital in Germany, has yet to tell anyone about the circumstances of his capture. But that has not stopped people from raking him across the coals for his alleged behavior.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice cautioned that Bergdahl should not be "tried in the court of public opinion" before he gets to tell his side of the story. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said questioning his service is "irresponsible."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that if it is proven that he deserted, Bergdahl could face charges.

Capital punishment is a potential penalty for desertion during wartime. The last U.S. soldier executed under this rule was Private Eddie Slovik, whose execution was authorized by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.

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