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Bergdahl Probe Enters Next Phase, Hearing Report Now in Hands of Commanding General


According to this morning's Washington Post
, a recommendation involving the desertion case against Army sergeant and Idaho native Bowe Bergdahl has been issued by an investigating officer, but the recommendation will remain a secret for now.

Bergdahl's lead defense counsel, Eugene Fidell, said the recommendation was forwarded to U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Oct. 5. The report comes from Lt. Col. Mark Visger, who presided over Bergdahl's two-day desertion hearing in September.

Visger's report now triggers the next phase of the Bergdahl probe, in which Gen. Robert Abrams will decide whether Bergdahl will face a full court martial from the U.S. Army. Abrams is the commanding general of Forces Command.

Fidell told the Washington Post on Monday he had received a copy of Visger's recommendation but it would not be disclosed to the public before Abrams' ruling.

Bergdahl disappeared in June 2009 from a combat post in Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. He spent five years as a prisoner of war before he was freed in May 2014 following a prisoner swap that angered members of Congress and some soldiers in his former unit.

The Hailey native was released in exchange for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay. They were sent to Qatar and had to remain there for a year. After an investigation of the circumstances of his capture, Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy—counts that could lead to life in prison.

The New York Times reported in late September the next season of the popular podcast Serial will focus on Bergdahl. A person familiar with the project told The Times the Bergdahl episode would be co-produced by former New York Times Magazine Editor Hugo Lindgren and Page One, a film production company owned by screenwriter Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty). The Times also reported this morning Boal is working on a feature-length film about Bergdahl.