Bowe Bergdahl seeks to have all desertion charges against him dismissed due to statements made by John McCain that he claims violated his due process rights. If the charges are not dropped he demands to “face no consequences” if convicted. His attorneys filed a motion on Monday citing several statements made by Sen. McCain over the past year related to the Bergdahl case. In 2015 Bergdahl was charged with desertion and is facing a life sentence for walking away from his post on June 30, 2009 while stationed in Afghanistan.
After abandoning his post Bergdahl would spend the next five years as a Taliban prisoner before being released in a prisoner swap that would free five known terrorists from Guantanamo bay. McCain has been particularly condemning when speaking about Bergdahl and his lawyers state that these comments constitute improper interference of Congress in a court-martial proceeding.
Several U.S. military prosecutors have confirmed that they believe Bergdahl snuck away from his post. The resulting 45-day search would endanger the lives of several soldiers and diverted attention from the fight against the Taliban. Understandably, many veterans and active service members are outraged with Bergdahl’s behavior. McCain has been particularly outspoken when discussing the issue. Bergdahl’s lawyers point to this statment made by McCain during a campaign event in October 2015 for then-GOP presidential primary contender Sen. Lindsey Grahamas as the basis for their request to have the charges dismissed:
“If it comes out that Bergdahl has no punishment, we’re going to have a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee. I am not prejudging, OK, but it is well known that in the searches for Bergdahl, after – we know now – he deserted, there are allegations that some American soldiers were killed or wounded, or at the very least put their lives in danger, searching for what is clearly a deserter,”
Bergdahl’s attorneys argue that this statment, among many others, undermine the independence of the military proceeding and influenced members of the military community. They state that this constitutes a clear violation of Bergdahl’s rights to due process. His attorneys clearly stated their complaint in the motion, an excerpt from the document can be seen below:
“It is not rocket science to see what was wrong with Sen. McCain’s comment…His comments – as the Army certainly knows – constituted impermissible meddling in a pending criminal case and an abuse of his authority as chairman of a powerful Senate committee.”
The court-martial is scheduled to begin on February 6, 2016. Bergdahl’s attorneys will pursue having the charges dropped until the start of the trial. McCain’s office has not commented on the request.