Bergdahl should get no jail time


Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, accused of deserting his post in Afghanistan six years ago before his capture by the Taliban, should get no jail time, the investigator looking into his case says.

Bergdahl’s attorney, Yale Law School lecturer Eugene Fidell, released a document late Friday that cited comments from the investigating officer in a preliminary hearing held weeks ago at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston that suggest prison isn’t an option in the case.

The Army has not released the recommendation from Lt. Col. Mark Visger, and a spokesman for the service’s Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based Forces Command, Paul Boyce, declined to confirm the report Saturday, saying “we continue to maintain careful respect for the military judicial process, the rights of the accused, and ensuring the case’s fairness and impartiality.”

The head of Forces Command is free to follow Visger’s recommendation or take a different course of action under military law.

The filing by Fidell and military defense counsel Franklin Rosenblatt didn’t cite a specific statement from Visger stating that Bergdahl should be spared jail time, even though the desertion count carries a five-year sentence and another change, misbehavior before the enemy, carries a maximum of life in prison.

However, the defense filing issued Friday stated that “(Rule for Court-Martial) 306(b) requires that offenses be disposed of at “the lowest appropriate level of disposition.” Given your conclusion – with which we agree – about whether confinement or a punitive discharge are warranted, and the factors you cited in support of that conclusion, nonjudicial punishment under Article 15, UCMJ, is the appropriate disposition.”

Fidell has repeatedly pointed to testimony during the Article 32 hearing at Fort Sam from a two-star general who investigated the case in arguing that Bergdahl, 29, of Hailey, Idaho, should not get jail time.

The defense wants Bergdahl released from the Army with his veterans benefits intact so he can continue to receive government care for health problems that were brought about by his captivity.


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