There is a remarkable story out of Belgium where researchers have not only identified a 200-year old skeleton discovered beneath a parking lot at the Battle of Waterloo site as a German soldier, but identified the soldier as 23-year old Friedrich Brandt, was a member of the King’s German Legion of British monarch George III. The pictures shown here actually reveal the minimal still lodged between Brandt from the wound that killed him.
We have yet another example of how we are wasting billions of dollars in Afghanistan where a combination of incompetence and corruption continues to drain the U.S. treasury. This week, SIGAR released two reports showing how, an inspection of the $7.8 million Shorandam Industrial Park in Kandahar is an utter failure and how the money to create a sustainable source of power for Kandahar City has left the city literally in the dark. Once again, there is no indication of any discipline or action taken against those who approve such projects and oversee such failures.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In an injustice to both the liberty of a Kurdish man and free speech in general a court in Turkey handed down thirteen year sentence to a defendant accused of removing a Turkish flag at a military base near Diyarbakir, Turkey. The disproportionate sentence followed an outraged Recep Erdogan who declared after the act, “[w]e don’t care if he is a child. Even if a child dares to take down our sacred flag both him and those who send him there will pay a price.”
The Bergdahl case will raise some considerable challenges for the defense in what could be one of the most notable desertion cases in modern U.S. history. That is, if it goes to trial. This would seem a case where everyone may prefer a plea. The evidence is strong against Bergdahl, though there is clearly a great deal of evidence that has yet to be released. Cases always appear stronger for the government at the time of indictment. However, what we know is pretty bad for the defense. On the other side, the Obama Administration would clearly prefer a plea to a trial that would highlight Bergdahl’s actions and the possible loss of U.S. personnel looking for a deserter (who was later traded for five blood-soaked Taliban leaders with terrorist ties). Such issues would be obvious for prosecutors to raise when discussing the appropriate punishment, if Bergdahl is convicted. However, it could be an argument that the Administration would not want pursued by prosecutors. While such interference is prohibited as “command influence” on a military case, there have been allegations of such influence in past high-profile cases, including controversies in this Administration. In this case, the pressure is likely to be considerable for prosecutors to accept a plea, though such a plea could fuel previously accusations that the case was being manipulated to avoid embarrassment for the Administration.
Below is the longer version of my column that ran in print this morning in USA Today.
After months of alleged delay for political reasons until after the elections, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
The systematic destruction of art and historical and religious sites continued this month with another crime against humanity by Islamic State militants. The extremists reject images of the human body as violations of Islamic teachings and despise earlier civilizations that were not based on their Islamic traditions. So, after destruction priceless artifacts and art in the museum in Mosul, IS destroyed the the ancient Assyrian archaeological site near Mosul. The loss is truly incalculable for humanity.
We have another stolen valor controversy this week. This time it involves Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald who was recorded telling a homeless man in passing that he was a member of the “special forces.” People are calling for his resignation. However, as someone who has written a great deal about Stolen Valor, I disagree that this is a serious case of misrepresentation or that McDonald should resign. He did not have stolen valor. He has more than enough. What happened in this case was a mistake but there is still a difference between a venial and moral sin . . . even in cases of valor.