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Bergdahl retains prominent military law expert

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at 8:32 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at 12:09 p.m.

— The Yale Law School scholar and prominent military legal expert now representing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl said Wednesday that investigators have been “cordial and professional” as they begin their inquiries.

Eugene Fidell, whose title is Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer in Law, said in an interview that he met with Bergdahl in San Antonio last week. He also talked with Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, who is leading the military’s investigation into Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

A former Coast Guard judge advocate and co-founder of the National Institute of Military Justice, Fidell said he will be serving as Bergdahl’s lead counsel, assisted by a uniformed member of the Army’s Trial Defense Service.

“I was very flattered to be asked to represent him,” Fidell said, adding that Bergdahl “has cooperated fully” with investigators.

Dahl’s inquiry will seek to answer questions about Bergdahl’s departure from his post in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009, which led to an extensive Army search. After five years in captivity, Bergdahl was released June 1 in exchange for five Taliban militants.

The so-called 15-6 investigation, named for an article in Army regulations, is designed as fact-finding that will result in conclusions and recommendations to the commanding officer who will decide whether further action, such as court martial, is required. Dahl was tapped for the job a month ago.

“It’s not a courtroom,” Fidell said. “This is an investigation.”

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