Accused Army Deserter Bergdahl, Seeks A Pardon
New York Times reports that Bergdahl’s attorneys have recently filed clemency applications for their client with the White House, Justice Department and the Pentagon.
Bergdahl’s trial for desertion in Afghanistan is set to start in April 18. His attorneys are seeking a pre-emptive pardon from the Obama administration, before Obama leaves office. After all, it was the Obama administration that secured his release from the Taliban by exchanging high level Taliban detainees to Qatar.
The deal for Bergdahl’s return was highly controversial. As inauguration day for President elect Trump draws closer, Bergdahl’s lead defense lawyer, Eugene R. Fidell, expressed that “If the case is still pending when Mr. Trump is inaugurated next month, he’ll file a motion for dismissal arguing that a fair trial isn’t possible under the next presidential administration.”
It’s possible that Bergdahl may serve life in prison if convicted in his court martial-trial. An Army investigation in 2015 concluded that Bergdahl planned on hiking to another military post before his capture. Prosecutors have pushed for prosecution, citing his misbehavior that led to soldiers being injured in the search for him.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel defended Bergdahl saying “I have seen no evidence that directly links American combat deaths to the search of Bergdahl.”
Still, some were not satisfied with this conclusion. Trump has called him a “dirty, rotten traitor”, suggesting he be shot. Senator John McCain also called him a deserter and said an oversight hearing would take place if Bergdahl received no punishment.
An Army commander also ordered him prosecuted and a life sentence be given for his actions.