Vern Buchanan is urging President Obama in his last weeks in office not to pardon Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, saying the search for Bergdahl may have led to the deaths of several American soldiers.
White House and Justice Department officials say Bergdahl has submitted the clemency request. If granted, it would allow him to avert a court-martial trial scheduled for next April. Bergdahl faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
“It has been seven years since Sgt. Bergdahl chose to abandon his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan during a time of war,” the Sarasota Congressman said in a statement on Tuesday. “He should be court-martialed and held accountable.”
Bergdahl is facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy that endangered fellow soldiers. He was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after walking off his post in Afghanistan, sparking a massive man-hunt conducted by the military over the five-year period. During this time it was reported that as many as six to eight American soldiers may have died as a direct result of the search for Bergdahl.
But a review of the casualty reports and contemporaneous military logs from the Afghanistan war shows that the facts surrounding the eight deaths are far murkier than definitive, the NY Times has reported.
On his Fox News program last week, commentator Bill O’Reilly predicted that Obama will pardon Bergdahl, saying that Obama feels Bergdahl is not responsible for his actions because he was “out there” and not “emotionally equipped” to serve, and the Army “made a mistake even putting the man in the field.”
Eugene R. Fidell, Bergdahl’s defense lawyer, said if his case is still pending on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, he will file a motion to have it dismissed, arguing that a “fair military trial will be impossible after Mr. Trump becomes the commander in chief,” according to the New York Times.