Bergdahl and the Presumption of Innocence.

You know he’s a guilty, I know he’s guilty. But it is a bedrock of our society that the accused have his day in court, and that the burden of proof is upon the state (in this case, the Army) to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Which is fine.

In the case of SGT Bergdahl, that’s lead to some interesting things. First, while he was in the hands of the enemy, he was presumed to be in a POW status. And Army regulations provide for the regular career progression of soldiers held by the enemy. That’s why then PFC Bergdahl emerged from captivity as a Sergeant. Further, his pay and allowances were continued while he was in Taliban captivity.

One of the accoutrements of the Army Service Uniform authorized by AR670-1 is the Overseas Service Bar, commonly called combat stripes. For every 6 months of service in a war zone, a gold horizontal bar is sewn to the lower right hand sleeve of the jacket.

And of course, time spent as a POW counts as service in a war zone. Here’s a screen grab of Bergdahl entering court earlier today.

Bergdahl

That’s a hell of a lot of combat stripes.

Apparently, he’s deferred a plea, and the arraignment will continue early next year.

Interestingly, the Army could administratively rescind his promotion, and the award of combat stripes. But that could, in absence of a conviction by court martial, be seen as double jeopardy, punishment for the same bad acts twice. And so the Army has deferred all administrative actions pending court martial. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, Bergdahl has not been under confinement or restriction of any sort since his return to US control.

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