All I know about Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl is what I read (and don't read) in the press and on the Internet, so I disclaim having any inside information. My following prediction is based on my time in the Army, and as a lawyer in a court martial arising out of a rape during the first Gulf War.
On Monday, July 14, 2014, the media reported that Bergdahl is now an English-speaking, psychologically-whole soldier in the United States Army. As such, he has been "returned to duty."
But, we are assured, the investigation of the likely deserter continues.
Eventually, it will end.
When it does, I predict that the following is the best we can expect:
- Bergdahl will be charged with desertion, because the evidence known so far seems to be that he left his unit with no intention to return.
- The Government, Department of Defense, Department of Army, military prosecutors, and compliant media will put out the story that an essential element of desertion is the defendant's intent. And, they will say, you know intent is really all about what Bergdahl was thinking when he left. "Who can know?" "It's all circumstantial, isn't it"? "Hard to prove, right? "Might the jury not find the intent? Etc., etc., etc.
- While the pretrial proceedings drag on, the idea of a face-saving, not very punitive plea will surface.
- Bergdahl will plead to being Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL), to cover the desertion charge and any others that could have been brought.
- He will be sentenced to reduction in rank to private, a dishonorable discharge (DD), forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and--no pun intended--"time served."