June 06, 2014, 10:54 am
Susan Rice stands by 'honor and distinction' remark on Bergdahl
By Rebecca Shabad
White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Friday defended her remark about how Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had served in the military with "honor and distinction."
The comment has come under fire amid conflicting reports about whether Bergdahl deserted the Army in Afghanistan before being captured by the Taliban and held as a prisoner for five years.
Speaking to CNN’s Jim Acosta from the 70th anniversary event to mark D-Day in Normandy, France, Rice said her remark about Bergdahl was describing his decision to enter the military in war time.
“I realize there has been a lot of discussion and controversy around this,” Rice said to CNN about that remark. “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. That in itself is a very honorable thing.”
“But ‘honor and distinction?’” Acosta asked.
“Jim, really,” Rice said. “This is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about.”
Rice said Bergdahl is being tried in “the court of public opinion” and said people should withhold judgment until the fact are known.
“He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty,” Rice said. “He is now being tried in the court of public opinion after having gone through enormously traumatic five years of captivity. His parents, the same.”
Improving Bergdahl’s health and well-being, Rice said, is the top priority.
Once he recovers, the Army plans to launch a follow-up investigation into the nature of his 2009 disappearance.
“Let’s know the facts, including his side of the story, and then we can make a judgment,” said Rice.