Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, told The Washington Post that his client was handed a charge sheet on Wednesday. Army officials said in a statement that Bergdahl has been charged with desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place. His case has been referred to an Article 32 preliminary hearing, which is frequently compared to a grand jury proceeding in civilian court.
Bergdahl is unlikely to face the death penalty if found guilty but could face a long prison sentence. Also it is worth noting that although Bergdahl isn’t the only US soldier who has deserted in either Iran or Afghanistan. His case is different because he allegedly deserted from a battlefield.
Bergdahl’s case has prompted questions over whether the Obama administration handled the prisoner swap legally. Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security, also provoked criticism when she said after Bergdahl’s recovery that he had served “with honor and distinction.” She later acknowledged the remark was controversial, and said she was referring to the soldier’s decision to enlist in the first place.
“That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing,” she said.
This is a big faux pas by the Obama administration and Susan Rice for uttering these words. Doing some proper check-ups on Bergdahl first would have probably avoided this embarrassing mess. His fellow soldiers have been saying for ages that he was a deserter.