From an editorial Friday in the New York Times:
It won’t be hard for military lawyers to argue that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl violated military regulations when he slipped out of a remote outpost in Afghanistan in 2009 and became a Taliban prisoner for five years.
They would have a tougher time explaining why it’s worthwhile to prosecute a soldier the Army recruited despite significant concerns about his psychological state and who endured years of torture and privation during his captivity. As a general matter, the U.S. military has good reason to punish service members who desert. However, it should exercise discretion in extraordinary cases. Bergdahl’s is certainly one.
Before Bergdahl walked out of his base in Paktika province on June 30, 2009, it was clear to some of his family members back home, and some of his comrades in Afghanistan, that he was emotionally distressed and at times delusional.
Many people in the military harbored deep animosity toward him. This anger is understandable. But trying him for allegedly engaging in misconduct that endangered his unit stands to accomplish little at this point. A conviction would most likely deprive a traumatized veteran of benefits, including medical care, which he will probably need for years.
A trial would raise important questions about whether there were opportunities to avert the crisis his capture created. Those questions, however, should be addressed outside of a courtroom.