Bergdahl Hires Yale Scholar as Lead Counsel

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier for whom the U.S. traded five senior Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay, hired a Yale law professor as his lead counsel.

"I was very flattered to be asked to represent him," Eugene Fidell, the Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer in Law, told McClatchy News Service Wednesday.

The Pentagon is investigating details about Bergdahl's departure from his post in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009. Bergdahl has not been asked about the circumstances leading up to his capture by the Taliban, but could be eligible for a tax-free $350,000 if the probe determines he was a prisoner of war.

"It's not a courtroom," Fidell, who called the investigators "cordial and professional," said. "This is an investigation."

Bergdahl was put back on regular duty in a desk job as the investigation continues. Fidell asked Americans to withhold judgment about the events until they learn more details. He reportedly met with his client last week in San Antonio.

In an interview, Fidell did not go into specifics about Bergdahl's mental state, but said his client understands that his life was saved and is grateful to President Obama.

Several soldiers who served with Bergdahl have come forward to say they believe he intentionally deserted his post, and put his fellow soldiers at risk when they went to look for him.

"I think it's very clear he deserted his post," former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow told last week. "He thought about what he was doing, he mailed some things home, he walked away and we have witnesses who saw him walking away. And if you're walking away in one of the worst, most dangerous areas of Afghanistan without your weapon and gear, I don't believe you're planning on coming back."

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