The Army has decided to charge Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released by Taliban-aligned militants last year in exchange for five Guantanamo prisoners, with desertion, according to a former military intelligence officer.
Retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who now works at the London Center for Policy Research, told Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday night that he’s learned of the military’s decision from two sources.
“The Army has come to its conclusion, and Bowe Bergdahl … will be charged with desertion,” he said.
Asked for comment on the claim, Army officials denied that any decision had been made. Spokesman Paul Boyce told Fox News on Tuesday that there is “no change” and that it is an “ongoing review at this time.”
Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s lawyer, did not comment when reached by Fox News.
But Shaffer said Bergdahl’s attorney has been given a “charge sheet” outlining the section of the military justice code Bergdahl allegedly violated.
“As a corporate entity, the Army has decided that they want to pursue Bergdahl for this violation,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer said there’s a “huge battle” going on inside the Obama administration, as some try to “suppress” this development. “This is shaping up to be a titanic struggle behind the scenes,” he said.
Shaffer said the Army “wants to do the right thing” but the White House “wants this to go away.”
He said: “The White House, because of the political narrative, President Obama cozying up to the parents and because of he, President Obama, releasing the five Taliban … The narrative is what the White House does not want to have come out.”
Bergdahl was held for five years before his release was secured in 2014.
But while the president joined with Bergdahl’s parents in the Rose Garden at the time in celebrating his return home, the prisoner swap swiftly became a matter of severe controversy. Fellow soldiers accused Bergdahl of deserting his post on a base in Afghanistan in 2009. And the trade itself, of his freedom for five Guantanamo prisoners, drew criticism in Congress from lawmakers who said it sent a troubling signal.
On Monday, former diplomat Richard Grenell claimed the administration has “sent the message” that the U.S. will negotiate on such matters. He cited an alleged offer, made around the same time as Bergdahl’s release, by the Qatari government to trade two Americans held in Qatar for an Al Qaeda agent held in a U.S. federal prison. The Obama administration denies there was any deal. Those prisoners were ultimately released over the past two months.