Army general approves Bowe Bergdahl court-martial

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a photo courtesy of his attorney Eugene Fidell.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a photo courtesy of his attorney Eugene Fidell.

An Army four-star general has ordered the military to go forward with the desertion trial by general court martial of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released in exchange for five Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay.

The U.S. Army Forces Command announced the decision by Gen. Robert B. Abrams Monday in a statement. It said Bergdahl would face two specific charges: “Desertion with Intent to Shirk Important or Hazardous Duty;” and “Misbehavior before the Enemy by Endangering the Safety of a Command, Unit or Place.”

Bergdahl, who was last assigned to duties at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, will be formally charged in an arraignment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where Abrams has his headquarters. Army Forces Command announced the venue in a statement of approval of charges but said no initial court date has been set.

Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, earlier told the Associated Press that charging Bergdahl would be against the advice of an officer who considered the charges in a military form of a show-cause hearing and recommended the soldier face a lower, special misdemeanor-level military court.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was held by the Taliban for nearly five years after he walked off his post in Paktika Province in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. He was traded May 31, 2014 for five long-held Taliban detainees at Guantánamo by order of President Barack Obama, as commander in chief, who had them sent to the custody of Qatar.

Obama, invoking national security and the danger that word of the trade might leak, did not provide Congress with the statutory 30-day notice of a pending transfer. Members of Congress said Obama broke the law.

Bergdahl was charged in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Conviction of the charges could bring a maximum life in prison.