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General to question Bergdahl about his disappearance

Jul. 30, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
The Taliban released a video June 4 showing the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.
The Taliban released a video June 4 showing the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan. (AP)
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WASHINGTON — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban two months ago, will meet next week with the senior Army officer investigating the circumstances of his capture in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Bergdahl, who spent five years in captivity, plans to meet with Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the investigating officer, in San Antonio, where Bergdahl is stationed, according to lawyer Eugene Fidell.

“We are all looking forward to having this over, so he can get on with his life,” Fidell said.

The Army is trying to determine whether Bergdahl deserted his post or wandered off temporarily and was seized by Taliban militants battling the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan. The outcome of the investigation will determine whether Bergdahl will be punished, and if so, how severely.

The Army said after his return that it did not want to interrogate Bergdahl until he had rest, counseling and time to recover from his ordeal. The Army sergeant has declined to discuss his captivity publicly.

Bergdahl was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners released from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were turned over to the government of Qatar, where they must stay under surveillance for one year under the terms of the exchange.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other critics of the deal accused the Obama administration of negotiating with terrorists. Some fellow soldiers said Bergdahl walked off his post without authorization, endangering the lives of soldiers who had to search for him.

Bergdahl was initially hospitalized at a U.S. facility in Germany, where he received treatment to help him adjust to his new freedom. Last month, he was transferred to a military hospital in San Antonio, then was deemed fit to assume regular duties with a unit at Fort Sam Houston.

Shortly after his capture, the Army conducted an investigation into the circumstances of his disappearance but did not have the benefit of Bergdahl’s account. The Army assigned Dahl to investigate further.

Bergdahl will probably be read his rights before talking to Dahl, Fidell said. Bergdahl has been debriefed for intelligence and other purposes

“He’s been completely cooperative with the authorities,” Fidell said.

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