In a motion filed yesterday in the Bergdahl case and available here, Sergeant Bergdahl’s defense team seeks to disqualify General Abrams as convening authority for three reasons.
First, because General Abrams served as the principal military assistant to the Secretary of Defense before his current assignment, and was therefore involved in the Bergdahl search and recovery operations, the Defense asserts that he is a fact witness who cannot also serve as convening authority.
Second, General Abrams apparently did not consider the defense comments to the Article 32 preliminary hearing report. According to the motion:
When interviewed, [General Abrams] claimed that [the defense submission] was written for “the lawyers” and suggested that if the defense wanted him to read the submission, it should be written in “plain-speak.”
Mot. at 7. The defense calls this “preposterous” and asserts that it requires General Abrams’ disqualification and a new referral decision. Mot. at 7.
Finally, the motion asserts that:
GEN Abrams admitted having received over 100 letters about SGT Bergdahl’s case. These were addressed to him and sent through the mail. He said they spanned the full spectrum of opinion, and came from all types of people and on both sides of the case. When defense counsel asked to see the letters, GEN Abrams revealed that he had destroyed them by burning.
Mot. at 7 (emphasis added).
One can only hope that the General was not so reckless as to destroy the only copies of the letters (which, of course, were official records).
The defense also asks that any court-martial be prohibited from adjudging any punishment in the event Bergdahl is convicted. Bergdahl recently also sought this remedy in response to Senator McCain’s comments on his case (discussed here).