The legal team for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl on Monday asked to have the charges against the former prisoner of war dismissed, arguing comments made by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain violated his due process rights.
Bergdahl, 30, is facing a court-martial with a potential life sentence on charges of desertion and endangerment of U.S. troops after he walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and became a Taliban prisoner for five years.
Defense attorneys argued in a motion filed on Monday that comments made by McCain and the committee’s general counsel, Steve Barney, have unduly influenced his case. The filing quotes McCain as saying last October: “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,” McCain added.
The statements, among others, defense attorneys argued, undermine the independence of the military proceeding and violate Bergdahl’s rights to due process. The motion said if the charges are not dropped and Bergdahl is convicted, he should at least face no punishment.
“It is not rocket science to see what was wrong with Sen. McCain’s comment,” the motion says. “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.”
Representatives for McCain’s office could not be immediately reached for comment, nor could a spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee.
U.S. military prosecutors have said Bergdahl sneaked off his post, resulting in a 45-day search that put soldiers’ lives at risk and diverted attention from the fight against the Taliban.
Bergdahl was freed in a prisoner swap in May 2014 involving the release of five Taliban leaders held by the United States. The deal drew heavy criticism from Republicans.
The court-martial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 6, 2017.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
‘She’s a sick puppy’: Trump goes off the rails attacking Pelosi in Fox News coronavirus update
President Donald Trump railed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a phone interview with Fox News.
The president called in to "Fox & Friends," which he regularly watches and promotes on his Twitter feed, and complained that Pelosi had criticized his response to the coronavirus crisis.
"She’s a sick puppy, in my opinion," Trump told the hosts. "She has a lot of problems."
Trump pushed the emerging Republican attack that claims Democrats were too distracted by impeachment to respond to the COVID-19 threat in its early stages.
Don’t believe the polls — Trump is killing his re-election chances with his pandemic floundering: columnist
According to longtime political observer David Leonhardt, Donald Trump's chances of being re-elected are diminishing every day as the economy continues to crash and Americans are dying because of the COVID-19 pandemic despite "snapshot polls" saying voters are still supportive of him.
Writing for the New York Times, the columnist notes that the full horrors of what is now occurring won't fully be revealed for months to come -- and for Trump, the resulting damage may be too much to overcome in November when voters head to the polls.
‘Abolish for-profit health insurance’: Analysis warns companies could hike premiums by 40 percent amid pandemic
"Corporate-run health insurance isn't about saving lives. It's about making as much money as possible. With Medicare for All we can finally put an end to this international disgrace," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.
A new analysis warning that U.S. health insurance companies could hike already exorbitant premiums by 40 percent or more next year amid the coronavirus pandemic was received by Medicare for All advocates as further confirmation that America's healthcare system—driven first and foremost by the profit motive—is ill-equipped to provide necessary care for all, particularly in a time of nationwide crisis.