The officer in charge of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s hearing believes that the Bergdahl, charged with “desertion” and “misbehavior before the enemy”, should not be imprisoned, according to Berdahl’s attorney.
Lt. Col. Mark Visger’s report to the commander overseeing the prosecution instead recommends that Bergdahl’s case be referred to a special court martial, which is a misdemeanor-level panel.
“Visger presided over last month’s Article 32 hearing in Texas that reviewed evidence against Bergdahl. Visger submitted a report with his recommendation on Monday, but the Army hadn’t said what Visger recommended,” Fox News reports.
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As reported by Western Journalism, Bergdahl was charged not only with desertion, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, but with the rarely used charge of “misbehavior before the enemy,” which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
“Under the special court martial proceeding, a soldier may receive no more than a year in jail and nor worse than a bad-conduct discharge,” according to the Army Times.
Berdahl’s defense attorney, Eugene Fidell, is pushing for the even lower level, non-judicial, Article 15 proceeding.
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Fidell wants the Army to make Visger’s report and other materials public. “They should be releasing Col. Visger’s report, they should be releasing Gen. [Kenneth] Dahl’s report [who testified last month’s Article 32 proceeding], they should be releasing Sgt. Bergdahl’s 371-page transcript of his interrogation by Gen. Dahl, I mean, all of this stuff should be released,” Fidell said.
“We could object to it, but we’re not objecting to it, we want it public. And the chips will fall where they may…Let people make up their own minds instead of having this all behind a curtain,” Fidell added.
The Obama Administration traded the so-called “Taliban-Five” Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl, age 29, securing his release in May 2014. The soldier left his post in Afghanistan in June 2009, having written to his parents beforehand saying he no longer supported the war effort and that he was “ashamed to be an American.” He was reportedly held captive by the Taliban for five years.
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