A group of 23 veterans in Congress -- including Iraq war veterans John Boccieri, D-Ohio; Patrick Murphy, D-Pa.; and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. -- sent out an angry letter today to the CEO of Fox News blasting retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters' comments implying that the Taliban should kill Pvt. 1st Class Bowe Bergdahl if he's found to be a deserter.
Veterans groups like VoteVets.com have been bristling at Peters' statements for days; Shortly after Bergdahl went missing, Peters discussed the situation with anchor Julie Banderas and noted the soldier may have been a deserter who fell into enemy hands. Below is an excerpt:
If, when the facts are in, we find out that through some convoluted chain of events, he really was captured by the Taliban, I'm with him. But, if he walked away from his post and his buddies at wartime... I don't care how hard it sounds, as far as I'm concerned, the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills.
A few days later, after video of Bergdahl was released by the Taliban, Peters backtracked from those comments in another Fox appearance, saying "I do hope for his familys sake this guy comes back safely."
But the Congressional vets are still outraged over his comments, calling them "so far beyond the pale that they dont even approach the decorum and respect deserved by a member of the United States Armed Forces" in the letter to Fox News.
The group is demanding an apology from Peters and the network. Below is the full text of their letter:
As members of Congress and veterans of the United States Armed Forces, it was with incredulity and disgust that we watched Fox News Strategic Analyst Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters (Ret.) suggest on your airwaves that Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, abandoned his buddies, abandoned his post, and just walked off, and stated that, if this is true, the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills.
Mr. Peters comments are so far beyond the pale that they dont even approach the decorum and respect deserved by a member of the United States Armed Forces. Mr. Peters indefensible comments call into question, without any supporting evidence whatsoever, PFC Bergdahls patriotism and commitment to his country, and suggest in a non-subtle way that he deserved to be captured. The events surrounding the capture of PFC Bergdahl are irrelevant at this point. The only priority should be his safe and immediate release to U.S. forces.
Mr. Peters further complained that PFC Bergdahl was openly questioning U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and cooperating with the Taliban, showing that Mr. Peters has conveniently forgotten that soldiers in captivity are often forced to make statements contrary to their beliefs simply to stay alive. Senator John McCain has often discussed his decision to do so while a captive of the Vietcong. Perhaps Mr. Peters would choose to question his patriotism as well. Regardless, we have every reason to believe that the comments made by PFC Bergdahl do not reflect his true feelings and are being forced by his captors. The truth is that Mr. Peters words give more aid and comfort to the enemy than any forced statement by a captured soldier, and put PFC Bergdahl at additional risk of harm.
Finally, his implied suggestion that the Taliban should simply kill PFC Bergdahl to, save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills, was repulsive and deserves to be repudiated by your news organization. We recognize and credit anchor Julie Banderas efforts to make it clear that Mr. Peters positions were not that of Fox News. However, that does not remove the responsibility your network has for the statements of one of its own analysts; especially those that suggest a member of the United States Army should be killed by his captors.
We demand an apology to PFC Bergdahls family and to the thousands of soldiers who put their lives on the line for our country. As a member of the military family, Mr. Peters should measure his remarks and remember that the United States will never abandon one of its own.We look forward to your response.
John Boccieri (D-OH) -- Duncan Hunter (R-CA) -- Patrick Murphy (D-PA) -- Thomas Rooney (R-FL)-- Joe Baca (D-CA)-- Brett Guthrie (R-KY)-- John Shimkus (R-IL)-- Christopher Carney (D-PA)-- Ted Poe (R-TX)-- Timothy Walz (D-MN)-- Darrell Issa (R-CA)-- Jim Marshall (D-GA)-- Gene Taylor (D-MS)-- John Spratt (D-SC)-- Jose Serrano (D-NY)-- Joe Sestak (D-PA)-- Bill Delahunt (D-MA)-- Don Young (R-AK)-- John Conyers (D-MI)-- Edolphus Towns (D-NY)-- Eric Massa (D-NY)-- David Roe (R-TN)-- Joe Pitts (R-PA)