The Army’s desertion case against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has progressed a step, with an investigating officer who oversaw a hearing last month sending a report with his recommendations on what the service should do next to a four-star general’s command, Bergdahl’s lawyer said Monday.
Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s lead defense counsel, said that an Army lawyer, Lt. Col. Mark A. Visger, submitted his recommendations to U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Monday afternoon. Visger oversaw a two-day hearing last month probing the case against Bergdahl, who faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in connection with his 2009 disappearance from a small Army outpost in southeastern Afghanistan.
The case has been closely scrutinized because of what happened afterward. Bergdahl was taken by insurgents affiliated with the Taliban, and held captive until the White House approved a deal last year that freed him in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Army launched a massive manhunt to find him that lasted months, and altered operations across Afghanistan.
Gen. Robert B. Abrams will decide whether the Army court-martials Bergdahl. He is commanding general of Forces Command and has been named the convening authority for the case. (He also is the son of Gen. Creighton Abrams, a towering figure who commanded operations during the Vietnam War and is the namesake of the Abrams battle tank.)
A spokesman for Forces Command (FORSCOM), Paul Boyce, said the organization continues to “maintain careful respect” for the legal process and Bergdahl’s rights. More information will be released when it is possible, he said.
Bergdahl’s legal team has pressed the service to release numerous documents in recent days, including Visger’s recommendations. Bergdahl’s defense teams received copies of it Monday, Fidell said in a statement released to the media.
“Colonel Visger’s report is unclassified and we believe it should be made public immediately,” Fidell said in a statement.
Fidell declined further comment, citing a respect for the Army’s legal process and motions that have been filed with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to expedite the release of more information in the case.
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