Army Officers Recommendation for Bowe Bergdahl Charged with Desertion Kept Secret

Army Officers Recommendation for Bowe Bergdahl Charged with Desertion Kept Secret

An Army officer’s recommendation on whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl should face a court-martial for leaving his post in Afghanistan six years ago will remain secret for now, The New York Times reported on Monday.

 Lt. Col. Mark Visger presided last month over a hearing in Texas that reviewed evidence against Bergdahl, who has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

    “Colonel Visger submitted a report with his recommendation on Monday, but the Army has not said what he recommended,” the Times reported.

    Bergdahl, who hails from the Wood River Valley, was captured after leaving his post, and spent five years in Taliban captivity.

    Last week, the entire 393-page transcript from the recent Article 32 hearing was made public. The document includes testimony by Bergdahl’s superior officer, Capt. John P. Billings, that he was a “great soldier,” one who “took honor in doing that task and accomplishing it to the best of his ability.”

    According to KSAT-TV in San Antonio, Texas, which made the transcript public, Bergdahl’s defense lawyer, Eugene Fidell, asked if Billings knew that Bergdahl had been discharged from the Coast Guard for psychological reasons, that the Army had waived its enlistment standards for mental health in order for Bergdahl to get in and that an Army psychiatry board concluded in June 2009 that Bergdahl possessed a “severe mental disease or defect.”

 Billings answered “no” to all three questions and added that if he had known, he would have recommended that Bergdahl receive help. KSAT reported that several other witnesses testified during the Article 32 hearing, whose purpose is to determine whether Bergdahl should be court-martialed on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

    Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of the Army Forces Command, will decide whether the case should be referred to a court-martial. No timeline has been given for a decision.

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