McCain’s Bergdahl Comment Sparks Records Fight

     (CN) – Three days after Sen. John McCain called for hearings guaranteeing punishment for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the young soldier’s attorney has demanded that the Army cough up its communications with the committee chaired by the Arizona Republican.
     Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province in late June 2009 and was captured almost immediately by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.
     When investigative hearings began for Bergdahl in September 2015, it was unclear whether he would have to spend more time locked up, after suffering in Taliban captivity from 2009 to 2014.
     After President Barack Obama won Bergdahl’s freedom in a swap for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Senate Republicans questioned the trade in terms that often vilified the sergeant.
     As partisan debate grew, the military equivalent of a grand jury began, with some high-profile support and sympathy for Bergdahl.
     An Army major general testified in September that Bergdahl had suffered enough, and delivered emotional testimony about the sergeant’s life in a seven-foot metal cage where he was beaten.
     Unmoved, McCain encouraged the Senate Armed Services Committee to step in if the Army declined further punishment for Bergdahl.
     McCain on Oct. 12 told the Boston Herald, incorrectly, that “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.”
     The Pentagon has never claimed , or produced evidence, suggesting that anyone died in the search for Bergdahl.
     Should the Army spare Bergdahl more jail time, McCain said: “We need to have a hearing on that.”
     The New York Times coverage of McCain’s remarks included feedback from the committee’s spokesman alluding to its “longstanding oversight of the entire matter of Sergeant Bergdahl, not just his conduct.”
     Bergdahl’s attorney Eugene Fidell, who teaches at Yale Law School, tried to find out the meaning of that remark by filing Freedom of Information Act requests with the Department of Defense and the Army, starting on Oct. 15.
     Though the Army produced redacted documents two months ago, Fidell demanded more files, and he sued for them in Connecticut Federal Court on Wednesday.
     He is represented by Steven Wizner.

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