The latest on the Bergdahl trial

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The latest on the Bergdahl trial

We’re still in pre-trial hearings in the desertion trial of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, despite the fact that it’s been 8 years since he disappeared from his combat outpost, 3 years since he was freed in a trade for 5 Gitmo Alums, and over 2 years since he was actually charged.  The wheels of justice grind slowly and all that…

But yesterday they made some advancement on a couple of fronts.  First, you’ll recall that the defense attorneys had said that because of President Trump’s statements about Bergdahl on the campaign trail he could never get a fair trial.  The presiding judge dispensed with that argument, but allowed that they could ask jurors about some things.

From ABC News:

Attorneys at a pre-trial hearing Wednesday for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl discussed a questionnaire that could be given to potential jurors to determine whether they have been influenced by President Donald Trump's past critical remarks about the former prisoner of war.

During last year's presidential campaign, Trump referred to Bergdahl as a "dirty, rotten traitor" and a "bum," among other terms, on numerous occasions as he decried the exchange of five Guantanamo Bay detainees brokered to free Bergdahl as part of his regular stump speech.


Bergdahl's defense developed 16 questions about voter status, who panel members voted for, how they feel about Trump, if they are aware of and how they feel about his statements -- suggesting that those with strong views about the president would be unfairly biased. Prosecutors contended that a vote for Trump doesn’t necessarily indicate that they know about his statements concerning Bergdahl.

Judge Col. Jeffery Nance said he agreed with most of the 41 total questions on the panel questionnaire and that he is "making tweaks" to the list. He indicated that he intends to release the questionnaire to get it to panel members by next Tuesday. They would then provide their answers and the attorneys will decide whether they would like to ask more questions in writing or have potential jurors testify in voir dire.

Stars & Stripes also had more about the sparring over the questionnaire:

“The principal issue has to do with ensuring we are able to identify people who have been nominated to be on the court-martial panel — the jury — who are not in a position to render an impartial judgment,” [defense attorney] Fidell said. “Key to that is the whole set of issues surrounding President Trump’s outrageous comments throughout the course of his successful campaign for the White House.” […]

However, prosecutors argued Wednesday that some of the proposed questions are too far-reaching or are irrelevant. Army Maj. Justin C. Oshana, one of the prosecutors, asked Nance not to include questions about personal politics and argued simply asking jurors if they had heard Trump’s comments went far enough for the initial questionnaire.

“A person not aware of any of the comments made by Mr. Trump, but who voted for him, is not a prejudice issue,” Oshana said.

Also Wednesday the court heard testimony from a Navy SEAL that might be used for the sentencing phase if Bergdahl is convicted (from

 A former Navy Seal testified Wednesday that his military career ended when he was shot in the leg during a hastily planned mission to find Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after the soldier left his post in Afghanistan.

 Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer James Hatch told the judge that his team had about 90 minutes to plan their mission and board helicopters after receiving information about Bergdahl's purported whereabouts shortly after he disappeared in 2009. While pursuing enemy fighters on foot, Hatch was hit by fire from an AK-47. Hatch says he survived because members of his team quickly applied a tourniquet while waiting for a medical helicopter.

"They saved me from bleeding to death for sure," he testified during the pretrial hearing. Hatch, who entered the courtroom with a service dog and a limp, said he's had 18 surgeries because of the wound.

Bergdahl remains on active duty in San Antonio (as a clerk) and not confined during the pendency of the trial.

Posted in the burner | 12 comments
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Viet Vet, here. I believe Bergdahl deserted in order to collude with the didn't work out so well for him. I agree with with Hank, "Desertion during war has always benn punished by death/firing squad.

With all due respect, I must disagree. Bergdahl never should have been deployed. He had previously been discharged from the Coast Guard during basic training for psyche reasons. He apparently was never properly screened. What he did was insane, not criminal. Then he was (predictably to everybody but him) captured and tortured for five years by the Taliban. He should be given a general discharge and sent home. Five years as a prisoner of the Taliban tops ANYTHING any branch of U.S. justice system could do to him.

How does this all work towards retirement of 20 years or other type of retirement (DVA) if this continues on - look at all the active years up to now for pay and advancement. What going on!! Guy!!

The feetdragging and postponements in this case are themselves a miscarrage of justice. "Private" Bergdahl should have been tried in absentia with the mountain of evidence and witnesses who know saw him right before he defected to the enemy. He said he was going to and he did. He mailed all his belongings home. He dropped his weapon, uniform, and equipment and slipped out of the base. All this would have been enough to convict him. Instead, Obama thought he could make some hay out of "freeing an American Hero who served with honor and distinction". And he was promoted to Sergeant!! Are you kidding me? Then his dad spoke to him in Arabic on live TV!! He should have and will be busted down to E-1 and forfeit all pay and benefits while he serves a 20 year sentance. Enjoy your freedom, scumbag!!!

Let's offer the Taliban another trade. Give us back the Gitmo prisoners for Bergdahl.

Am i consider disabled yes.. what shall i do with the film.???

Am i consider disabled yes.. what shall i do with the film.???

No wonder we cannot win wars anymore. If it takes this long just to deal with one deserter. If his lawyers are going to use President Trump's words as his defense, the prosecutors should be allowed to use President Obama's even more erroneous words against him.

If he had been charged at the appropriate time,this issue would have already played itself out. Rendering President Trumps words moot. Obama is the delinquent here on this issue and an array of other issues that have been covered up for the most part. I digress, Bergdahl should pay the obvious"price" for his actions

He deserves the same as any other deserter

5 years as a POW, 3 of which were in a bed. The fact he's not a vegetable, the fact that he provided detailed intel immediately after his release, means he's a tough son of a bitch. Yeah he did something monumentally stupid, but he is a US serviceman who was captured and held by the enemy. He attempted escape and paid dearly for it. For that Sgt Berghdal has my respect.

Bergdahl is definitely not my favorite person by a long shot. However each person in this country including those who are in the military are entitled not only a fair trial (court martial), but a vigorous defense by their attorney. The defense attorney is doing what he is supposed to do whether anyone agrees with the attorney or not is irrelevant. Also we do not know at all what was going on in Bergdahl's head at the time. If indeed there is evidence that Bergdahl was released from Coast Guard basic training due to mental health issues, somewhere, Army recruiting dropped the ball on their background checks when he was being recruited. Remember one thing we take an oath to uphold and defend the constitution even for people we do not like. And yes I have served in the U.S. military.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.