Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

No Presidential Pardon for Bowe Bergdahl

Dec 6, 2016
Press Release
Army Deserter Endangered Fellow Soldiers

Buchanan Tells Obama to Reject Pardon Request

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged President Obama to reject Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl’s request for a presidential pardon, saying the search for Bergdahl may have led to the deaths of several American soldiers.

Bergdahl’s lawyers recently filed documents with the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon requesting a pardon, according to the New York Times. 

“It has been seven years since Sgt. Bergdahl chose to abandon his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan during a time of war,” Buchanan said. “He should be court-martialed and held accountable.”

Former members of Bergdahl’s platoon have publicly expressed concerns about Bergdahl since his return, characterizing him as a deserter who put American lives at risk. One of his fellow soldiers, Sgt. Matt Vierkant, has called for Bergdahl to face military trial for desertion and even said that “his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

Bergdahl is facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy that endangered fellow soldiers.  He was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after walking off his post in Afghanistan, sparking a massive man-hunt conducted by the military over the five-year period. During this time it was reported that as many as six American soldiers may have died as a direct result of the search for Bergdahl.

Soldiers in his platoon have also claimed that anti-U.S. attacks in the region seemed to increase in the days and weeks following Bergdahl’s disappearance. 

A pardon would allow Bergdahl to escape his court-martial, which is scheduled to begin April 18, 2017. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. 

Eugene R. Fidell, Bergdahl’s defense lawyer, said if his case is still pending on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, he will file a motion to have it dismissed, arguing that a “fair military trial will be impossible after Mr. Trump becomes the commander in chief,” according to the New York Times.