Speaking of Serial - Encore Episode

Nov 3, 2017

Soldiers hurt in the search for a missing comrade. A soldier with a mental disorder who previously washed out of the Coast Guard. Years of torture at the hands of a group associated with the Taliban.

If you’re a podcast fan and listened to the second season of “Serial,” you likely weren’t surprised by any of the testimony over the past two weeks of Bowe Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing.

In late 2015 and early 2016, the podcast picked through about 25 hours of Bergdahl’s recorded interviews with a filmmaker, examining his 2009 decision to leave his post in Afghanistan. The Hailey soldier was captured and held in Pakistan for about five years, then faced charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy upon his return.

The Idaho Statesman and Boise State Public Radio launched our own podcast at the time. “Speaking of Serial” discussed Bergdahl’s case, Serial’s reporting and what happens when an Idahoan becomes the center of international news.

With Bergdahl’s sentence rendered, we’re back! Here’s the latest episode discussing Friday’s events, and revisiting the case’s impact on the city of Hailey.

Bergdahl walked away from his unit in Afghanistan in 2009, saying he wanted to draw attention to problems within the military. Captured soon after, he was held for five years by a group affiliated with the Taliban before he returned to the U.S. as part of a controversial prisoner swap in May 2014.

He just recently pleaded guilty to his charges and was sentenced Friday, Nov. 3, to a dishonorable discharge and a rank reduction from sergeant to private. He must also forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months. But, he will avoid prison time; he could have been ordered to serve up to life in prison.

The sentence triggers an automatic court appeal, and Bergdahl’s attorneys plan to continue to argue that statements by President Donald Trump constitute unlawful influence on the military court.