- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2014

National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Friday clarified comments she made Sunday that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl served the United States “with honor and distinction,” saying that his decision to enlist in the Army was honorable.

“What I was referring to is the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war,” she told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “That is, itself, a very honorable thing.”

“With honor and distinction?” Mr. Acosta asked.

“Really, this is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about,” she said. “He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty. He’s now being tried in the court of public opinion after having gone through an enormously traumatic five years of captivity — his parents the same.”

Since being freed from captivity, many of Sgt. Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have accused him of abandoning his post or deserting. After being held by the Taliban for nearly five years, Sgt. Bergdahl was recently freed in exchange for the transfer of five former Taliban commanders from the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to Qatar.

Asked about the nature of his capture on ABC’s “This Week,” Mrs. Rice said the main point is that Sgt. Bergdahl is back and is going to be safely reunited with his family.

“He served the United States with honor and distinction,” she said then. “And we’ll have the opportunity eventually to learn what has transpired in the past years, but what’s most important now is his health and well-being, that he have the opportunity to recover in peace and security and be reunited with his family, which is why this is such a joyous day.”

On Friday, Mrs. Rice once again said that what is most important at this point is his health, well-being and recovery, and that the military has committed to reviewing the circumstances behind his capture.

“If there is a consequence that results from that, that will be delivered, but in the meantime, let’s remember this is a young man who volunteered to serve his country,” she said. “He was taken as a prisoner of war, suffered in captivity; he’s now trying to begin the process of recovery. Let’s let that happen, and then let’s know the facts and his side of the story and then we can make a judgment.”

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