Friday 30 September 2016

Bowe Bergdahl explains why he left his post in newly released documents

Published 17/03/2016 | 03:26

Bowe Bergdahl told a general who investigated the case that he hoped to cause an alarm by leaving his post (AP)
Bowe Bergdahl told a general who investigated the case that he hoped to cause an alarm by leaving his post (AP)

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl said he left a post in Afghanistan in 2009 to draw attention to what he saw as bad decisions by officers above him, according to newly released documents.

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Lawyers for Bergdahl, who faces charges including desertion, said they released the documents to help counteract negative publicity over the case.

Bergdahl told a general who investigated the case that he hoped to cause an alarm by leaving his post, then walk to a larger base in Afghanistan so he could have an audience with a senior commander.

"So, the idea was to - it was- literally, it was a sacrificial - it was a self-sacrifice thing," Bergdahl said, according to the transcript of a 2014 interview with Major General Kenneth Dahl.

Another newly released document from July last year shows that an Army Sanity Board Evaluation concluded that Bergdahl suffered from schizotypal personality disorder when he left the post. A Mayo Clinic website says people with the disorder have trouble interpreting social cues and can develop significant distrust of others.

Bergdahl faces charges of desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy, the latter of which carries up to a life sentence. He was held for five years by the Taliban and its allies before a swap involving five Guantanamo Bay detainees, prompting criticism from some in Congress that the move threatened national security.

His military trial had been tentatively scheduled to begin over the summer, but it has been delayed by disagreements over access to classified materials.

Bergdahl's lawyer Eugene Fidell said the decision to release the documents was made to fight negative publicity and because prosecutors have already entered part of the interview into the court record.

"The more Americans know about this case, the better," Mr Fidell said.

In the interview, Bergdahl expressed misgivings about how he and other soldiers were sent to help retrieve a disabled armoured vehicle before encountering explosives and enemy fire that turned a six-hour mission into one lasting several days. None of the men was killed, but Bergdahl said an officer complained they were unshaven upon their return to base.

He said he began to worry that if he did not say anything, a future bad order could get someone in his platoon killed.

Press Association

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