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General likely to question Bergdahl next week

WASHINGTON — The two-star general looking into the 2009 disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may soon question the soldier held by the Taliban for nearly five years, Bergdahl’s attorney said.

“I anticipate he’ll be interviewed next week, although a precise time hasn’t been pinned down,” said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale University and is representing Bergdahl on a pro bono basis.

Bergdahl has been introduced to the investigator, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, in a brief meeting. No questions were asked about why Bergdahl, then a private first class, went missing from a remote outpost in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Bergdahl was released May 31 in exchange for five prominent Taliban prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The Obama administration move sparked anger among Republicans in Congress, and Fidell said Bergdahl has since become “a political chew toy.”

Members of Bergdahl’s former unit have also taken aim at the former prisoner, saying he left his base voluntarily and that other soldiers were killed and wounded in searches and other related operations.

A 2009 Army investigation found that Bergdahl voluntarily left the outpost. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, however, has told Congress that he’s seen no evidence to support the claims of harm to other soldiers resulting from the disappearance.

If Dahl finds that Bergdahl intentionally deserted or went absent without leave, the sergeant could face administrative punishment or criminal prosecution, and could lose hundreds of thousands in back pay and prisoner of war benefits, as well as face incarceration.

On July 14, Bergdahl reported for administrative duty in a new unit with U.S. Army North, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas — the same base where Bergdahl underwent outpatient treatment to help him transition from captivity.

carroll.chris@stripes.com
Twitter: @ChrisCarroll_

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