WASHINGTON — The White House is claiming all those platoon mates who said Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deserted his unit are lying.
That is despite the fact seven members of his platoon have told national media outlets that Bergdahl deserted, and not one of his former fellow soldiers has come forward to say otherwise.
NBC’s White House correspondent Chuck Todd said on NBC’s “Today,” “I’ve had a few aides describe it to me as we didn’t know that they were going to swift boat Bergdahl.”
Leftists use the term swift boat to indicate someone is lying, so when Todd was asked later on Twitter if administration officials used the exact words “swift boat,” Todd tweeted, “I didn’t make it up.”
An incredulous Matt Lauer mentioned the investigation that concluded Bergdahl most likely walked away from his unit and the emails published years ago in which he said he was ashamed to be an American. The anchor then asked Todd how the administration possibly could not have seen the backlash the deal for Bergdahl would cause.
The reporter said the White House thought it would be safe because a number of Republicans had called for the soldier’s release, but, “Obviously they had no idea there would be no members of Bergdahl’s unit that would go public and praise or support him.”
That’s why the swift boat analogy actually may be relevant.
The term “swift boat” became part of the political language after swift boat veteran John E. O’Neill and WND senior staff writer Jerome Corsi published the book, “Unfit For Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry,” which many political observers credit with stopping Kerry from winning the White House in 2004.
The book contains interviews of men who served in Vietnam with Kerry and described how the future politician grossly exaggerated his war record and falsely accused U.S troops of committing war crimes.
Leftists have repeatedly accused those Vietnam veterans of lying, and now the administration is accusing Afghanistan vets of lying.
However, the evidence does not support the administration.
At least seven former platoon mates have spoken with such major media outlets as Fox, CNN and the Wall Street Journal, and they all say Bergdahl walked away from his post.
No one from that platoon has come forward to contradict those accounts.
However, in addition to the White House, the State Department has also cast aspersions on those soldiers’ credibility.
When spokesperson Marie Harf was asked if the State Department considered Bergdahl a deserter, she said no, and chided reporters to “Google it” because, she claimed, “there are a ton of conflicting reports.”
When a reporter pointed out that there were no conflicting reports, just the reports claiming Bergdahl had abandoned his post, Harf appeared to question the soldiers’ veracity.
“Look, there’s a lot of rumor, and telephone game that’s being played here about what happened,” she claimed.
The reporter replied, “The guys on national television last night, his squad mates, his platoons mates, were not correct?”
Harf responded, “Nobody knows exactly what happened that night. It happened five years ago.”
The reporter retorted that had given the administration five years to figure out what had happened.
The spokesperson said Bergdahl probably knows best what happened that night.
But, not his platoon mates?
“I don’t think that’s the case,” she stated.
Here is what they’ve said.
Former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow was the team leader when Bergdahl disappeared on the night of June 30, 2009.
He said he heard Afghans from a nearby village say on the radio, “There’s an American here looking for someone who speaks English so he can talk to the Taliban.”
Buetow said “we were incredibly worried” about what Bergdahl might tell the Taliban, and their improvised explosive device, or IED, attacks became much more effective in the weeks after the soldier left his post.
“Following his disappearance, IEDs started going off directly under the trucks. They were getting perfect hits every time. Their ambushes were very calculated, very methodical,” said Buetow.
“Bergdahl is a deserter, and he’s not a hero,” Buetow told CNN. “He needs to answer for what he did.”
Fellow soldier Nathan Bradley Bethea told the Daily Beast, “Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”
Bethea wrote that one morning, Bergdahl simply failed to show for the morning roll call.
“The soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Blackfoot Company discovered his rifle, helmet, body armor and web gear in a neat stack. He had, however, taken his compass. His fellow soldiers later mentioned his stated desire to walk from Afghanistan to India.”
The soldier wrote that Bergdahl did not "lag behind on a patrol, as was cited in news reports at the time. There was no patrol that night.”
Rather, Bethea said, Bergdahl was “relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted.”
Another member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing, Sgt. Matt Vierkant, told CNN, “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”
Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Army Sgt. Josh Korder bluntly told CNN that Bergdahl was "at best a deserter, and at worst, a traitor."
Former Pfc. Jose Baggett said he was close to two men “killed because of his (Bergdahl’s) actions.”
He told MSNBC that not only was Bergdahl not a hero, he "left his guard post and got real heroes killed," referring to the men who went searching for the missing soldier.
Full and Sutton
Former Army specialists Cody Full and Gerald Sutton were platoon mates of Bergdahl who appeared on Fox.
Full contradicted the claim made by National Security Adviser Rice that Bergdahl served with honor and distinction. He said Bergdahl "violated his oath and put Americans in jeopardy" and wanted to see him court-martialed as a deserter.
Although Sutton was a friend of Bergdahl, he agreed, it was desertion.
At least six soldiers were killed in searches for Bergdahl, according to soldiers who looked for him.
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth