The attorney defending Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl says that the officer who presided over his Article 32 hearing last month is going to recommend that he face a lower-level court martial, thus sparing him a long prison sentence.
An Army officer is recommending that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl face a lower-level court martial and be spared the possibility of jail time for leaving his post in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Saturday.
Defense attorney Eugene Fidell said Lt. Col. Mark Visger has decided Bergdahl’s case should go to a military system similar to civilian courts that handle misdemeanor charges. It limits the maximum punishment to reduction of rank, a bad conduct discharge and a short jail term, though that isn’t being sought, Fidell said.
Military prosecutors charged Bergdahl in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, a charge that could carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Paul Boyce, a spokesman for the U.S. Army’s Force Command, released a statement Saturday that didn’t confirm Visger’s decision.
“As legal action is ongoing, we continue to maintain careful respect for the military-judicial process, the rights of the accused, and ensuring the case’s fairness and impartiality,” Boyce said.
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.
Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, will ultimately decide whether the case should be referred to a court-martial. No timeline has been given for a decision from Abrams.
“These are highly discretionary matters and, needless to say, I hope General Abrams does the right thing, but it’s his call,” Fidell said by phone Saturday.
Fidell released a memorandum addressed to Visger. It said the defense team is “grateful for the balanced, judicious, and humane approach you have taken to this complex case, and for the evenhanded way you conducted the public hearing.”
Bergdahl is an embarrassment to the Army, but more to the point, he’s an embarrassment to Barack Obama. This case was never going to end up with Bergdahl having the book thrown at him, giving him serious jail time. After all, the narrative must be maintained. The president made a great deal to get Bergdahl released — five terrorist leaders for a deserter — and that desertion in the face of the enemy is “honorable service.”
All hail the bloody narrative.