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)
Ken Cuccinelli defends denying entry to hurricane-struck Bahamians who should be ‘taking care of their own’
Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli insisted on Sunday that Bahamians should help themselves instead of fleeing to the United States after thousands were left homeless by Hurricane Dorian.
During an interview with CBS host Margaret Brennan, Cuccinelli was asked why the Trump administration is making it "harder to flee to this country" for Bahamians who were left homeless by the hurricane.
Cuccinelli, however, argued that the Trump administration is "making it easier" for Bahamians to travel to the U.S.
"The Bahamas is a perfectly legitimate country capable of taking care of their own," the USCIS chief said. "We rushed resources in, whether it was from USAID or the Coast Guard, who were downright heroic."
Kamala Harris blisters Kavanaugh for lying to her during his hearings and calls for him to be impeached
In a blunt tweet issued on Sunday morning, Democratic Presidential contender, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of lying to the U.S. Senate during his confirmation hearings and said he must be impeached.
Following a New York Times report outlining credible allegations against Kavanaugh accusing him of assaulting a fellow college student, Harris said the evidence presented should disqualify him from being on the bench.
"I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people. He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached," she tweeted.
Republicans accused of stifling sexual misconduct claim against Brett Kavanaugh during confirmation
A new report reveals that Deborah Ramirez, a woman who claims Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while she was a student at Yale University, may have had evidence to corroborate her story — but that Republicans created a process which would stifle her account so that Kavanaugh could be confirmed.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Deborah Ramirez, who alleged that she was assaulted by Kavanaugh at a Yale party when she was an underclassman, had her legal team provide the F.B.I. with a list of at least 25 people who could have had evidence to corroborate her story, but the bureau ultimately interviewed none of them, according to The New York Times. The publication also learned that many of the individuals who could have corroborated Ramirez's story attempted to reach the F.B.I. on their own but were unable to do so.