After a ruling by Army Col. Judge Jeffery Nance, Gen. Robert Abrams will be allowed to remain as the convening authority in the court martial of alleged Army deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Earlier in August, Bergdahl's defense attorneys argued that Abrams was unsuited as convening authority because of 1) Abrams's personal involvement in the efforts to recover Bergdahl and 2) that Abrams had allegedly destroyed hundreds of letters that could have been offered as mitigating evidence. Judge Nance, after hearing testimony from Abrams, determined that Abrams was disconnected enough from the case in order to act as an unbiased authority. In addition, Judge Nance determined that the letters that Abrams destroyed were previously reviewed by the staff judge advocate, who concluded that the letters did not contain case-sensitive material.
The incident began in 2009 when Bergdahl seemingly wandered from his post in Afghanistan. Hours after leaving his post, Bergdahl was captured by local Afghan forces and kept as a captive in Pakistan. Throughout the years, the captors demanded millions of dollars and a list of Afghan prisoners to be released. However, the captors eventually settled for an exchange – five Taliban leaders that were incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. The exchange was controversial, mainly for the allegations of desertion against Bergdahl.
Letters from Bergdahl to his father before his alleged desertion indicated a disheartened attitude towards the Army and the procedures used by the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Bergdahl was described by his comrades as "distant," but not unfriendly.
Bergdahl faces multiple charges, including desertion and endangering his unit. Had Bergdahl's defense attorneys been successful in forcing Abrams's recusal, the felony-level court martial would have been vacated, with the case to resume in a misdemeanor-level court martial.
Bergdahl's case received national attention after a public statement made by Former Vice President Dick Cheney in which Cheney reprimanded the President's decision to make the exchange. Cheney stated that it went against the United States' policy of negotiating with terrorists and that the Obama Administration was not given "a very good deal."