By: Brent Parrish
At first blush it would appear a very wonderful thing has occurred. The only American POW in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal, was freed from captivity and released to elements of the U.S. Special Forces yesterday at an unspecified location in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said.
Via the White House, dated May 31, 2014:
Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years. On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal. Today we also remember the many troops held captive and whom remain missing or unaccounted for in America’s past wars. Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield. And as we find relief in Bowe’s recovery, our thoughts and prayers are with those other Americans whose release we continue to pursue.
Bergdhal has been held captive since 2009 by the Taliban—specifically, the al-Haqqani network.
The release of Bergdhal is not without its share of controversy, though. The Obama Administration negotiated with terrorists in order to secure Bergdhal’s release. Five extremely dangerous terrorists were released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdhal. Technically, Qatar acted as the intermediary between U.S. negotiators and the Taliban terrorist representatives. But, in the end, the U.S. bartered with terrorists.
Steve Hayes of National Review tweeted that one of the “Taliban Five” to be released, Khairullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, was a key intermediary between the Taliban and Iran following 9/11.
Robert Bergdhal, father of Bowe Bergdhal, posted on Twitter that he was “working to free all Guantanamo prisoners,” but has since deleted the tweet.
The Twitter timeline of Bergdhal’s father is a bit strange, and reflects a very anti-American sentiment. Robert Bergdahl spoke to his son in Pashto, the dialect of the Taliban, upon his release, saying, “In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful.”
What I find especially chilling about Robert Bergdhal’s choice of using this particular phrase from the Koran—in perfect Pashto dialect, mind you—is that it is repeated over and over again in many violent videos of Islamic terrorist factions who have a penchant for filming and recording their crimes against humanity.
Bergdhal’s father reportedly learned the Pashto language in order to communicate with his son’s captors (alternatively spelled Pushto, also known historically as Afghani).
In 2010 the Taliban claimed Bowe Bergdahl had converted to Islam.
The president mentioned that Bowe Bergdhal had missed birthdays and holidays with family and friends. But there was no mention by the president of the birthdays and holidays that would be missed by family and friends of those who died looking for Bergdhal.
Parents of one U.S. officer killed hunting for Sgt. Bergdhal was given the official story their son died hunting for a Taliban commander.
Via Daily Mail:
The furious parents of an officer who they claim was killed while searching for freed Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl today said that they have been lied to as part of a ‘cover up just like Benghazi’.
The mother and father of Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews are angry that they have been told different stories about how their son died.
First his commanders said that their son was blown up while hunting a Taliban commander – but only now that Bergdahl has been freed after five years in captivity are they learning the truth.
Lt Andrews’ parents told MailOnline that their own son branded Bergdahl a ‘deserter’ before he was killed.
Lt Andrews was one of six men who died while apparently searching for Bergdahl, who is said to have voluntarily left his post in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.
The mother of Bowe Berdahl, Jani Bergdahl, said something during a press conference that ran on CNN Live in Boise, Idaho, that stood out to me. She said that “Bowe comes from a very strong tribe.“
The use of the word “tribe” stood out to me because I have seen this particular word used by the Obama Administration on numerous occasions. For example, the Obama White House has been sponsoring the Tribal Nations Conference for the past five years.
The White House Tribal National Conference – the fifth of the Obama Administration – is an opportunity to connect tribal leaders across the country directly with President Obama and his Administration as we work together toward tribal self-determination and self-governance. In his remarks, the President said, “That’s what we’re called to do – to keep strong the covenant between us – for this and future generations.”
Which tribe is Jani Bergdahl specifically referring to? Which tribe in Hailey, Idaho, is Bowe from? The “world tribe”? Anyway, I just find the choice of words interesting, especially considering Robert Bergdhal has compared past Native American wars between the U.S. government to the Taliban—tribal warriors.
The major controversy surrounding Bergdhal are the circumstances of his disappearance from his unit. He was not captured during a chaotic ambush scenario, or an attack on his post, but simply “disappeared.”
Which brings up a very serious potential charge: was Bergdhal a deserter?
And worse yet, is he a traitor?
Did he supply the Taliban with information on how to better fight against coalition forces?
The New York Times provides some interesting details on Bergdhal, my emphasis:
Among the questions military officials are likely to have for Sergeant Bergdahl when he is ready to talk are the circumstances of his capture on June 30, 2009, when he was separated from his unit in Paktika Province. Many in the military say he chose to wander off his base.
But a senior Defense Department official indicated that the Army most likely would not be punishing the sergeant for any violations of rules. “Whatever he may have done, I think he’s more than paid for it,” the official said. “Five years is a long time.”
On one hand, the NY Times’ report seems to provide some corroboration with what others at the base in Paktia had observed of Bergshal’s behavior prior to his disappearance.
On the other hand, it is troubling to read a senior Defense Department official state, that regardless of any violations or gross dereliction of duty that might have been committed by Sgt. Bergdhal, no punishment was likely, considering the length of time he was incarcerated by the Haqqani network (a militant outfit allied with the Taliban with ties to al-Qaeda).
The U.K.’s Telegraph reported that Bergdhal appeared in a video one month later after his abduction by the Haqqani network and relayed the following:
“I was captured outside of the base camp. I was behind a patrol, lagging behind the patrol and I was captured,” Bergdahl said in the video, later growing distraught when discussing his family.
There are some reports circulating—allegedly from soldiers who served with Bergdhal during his time in Afghanistan—that Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal was exhibiting some rather peculiar behavior prior to his disappearance.
Another soldier who claims to have served with the 1-501 Parachute Infantry Regiment of 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Division and Bergdhal in Paktia province, Afghanistan, recently posted an account on Twitter (follow: @CodyFNfootball) of Bergdhal’s questionable behavior that corroborates almost point for point with the timeline of events mentioned by “Dan Witmer” (see above).
The Twitter timeline of @CodyFNfootball alleges on June 30, 2009, at his base in Paktia Province, roll call was called at 0600 and all reported 100%, except for 3rd Squad … Bergdahl’s squad. He posits that Bergdhal slipped out around 0300-0430 local time. And he believes Bergdhal picked that particular night because it had the lowest moon lumens.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was asked by a reporter if Bergdhal had deserted his post, but he declined to answer the charge directly at this time:
Hagel also denies the charge they negotiated with terrorists.
HAGEL: First of all, we didn’t negotiate with terrorists. As I said and explained before, Sergeant Bergdahl is a prisoner of war. That’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back, that’s first. Second, we are dealing with terrorism and hostage taking all the time everywhere. I think America’s record is pretty clear on going after terrorists, especially those who take hostages, and I don’t think what we did in getting our prisoner of war released in any way would somehow encourage terrorists to take our American service men prisoner or hostage.
Well, unless holding talks with the Taliban is something different than negotiations (cooperation, perhaps?), then, yes, they are negotiating with terrorists. The Taliban are terrorists. Period. End of story. Case closed.
According to one AP report from 2012, Bergdhal had sent emails to his parents stating he was “ashamed of being an American” and was considering deserting.
Via CBS News:
(AP) WASHINGTON – Emails an American soldier reportedly sent to his parents before he was captured by the Taliban three years ago suggest he was disillusioned and considering deserting.
Bowe Bergdahl told his parents he was “ashamed to even be American” and was disgusted with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and with the Army, according to emails quoted in Rolling Stone magazine.
Bergdahl, a 26-year-old Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner on June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan.
The military has never detailed circumstances of his disappearance or capture, and he is not classified as a deserter. He was initially listed as “duty status unknown” and is now considered “missing-captured.” He is the only U.S. prisoner of war from the Afghanistan conflict, and U.S. officials say they are actively trying to free him.
The White House declined comment on the emails or Bergdahl’s possible motivation for leaving his base in eastern Afghanistan in 2009.
As to the deal worked out by the Obama Administration to exchange the five Guantanamo prisoners, two Republican congressman are charging the president violated the law by not notifying Congress of the secret deal to swap the Gitmo detainees for Bergdhal’s release until the exchange was already taking place.
Via Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers on Saturday accused President Barack Obama of breaking the law by approving the release of five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for a U.S. soldier believed held by Islamist insurgents for five years.
The White House agreed that actions were taken in spite of legal requirements and cited “unique and exigent circumstances” as justification.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, of Hailey, Idaho, was handed over to U.S. special operations forces by the Taliban. In return, five Afghans who were held at a U.S. detention facility in Cuba were released to the custody of the government of Qatar, which served as a go-between in negotiations for the trade.
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon of California and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said in a statement that Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from the U.S. facility. They said Obama also is required to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated.
McKeon is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Inhofe is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Having had family who served in Paktia Province in Afghanistan, I was well aware of the al-Haqqani network. They are known for their particular brand of ruthlessness, and appear to be better organized and more adept at complex attacks than most Taliban factions. It’s hard for me to imagine any American, especially U.S. military personnel, not being tortured and executed almost immediately by this vicious group of soulless savages—which leaves me scratching my head as to why Bergdhal’s captors kept him alive and in reasonably good health.
I want to say that I do care deeply about the sacrifice and suffering of our veterans and their families, who sacrifice so much, particularly combat troops and their families, and all the multiple deployments our military has been ordered to undertake … by an increasingly morally bankrupt civilian leadership (a.k.a. federal government, et al.).
We haven’t heard the last of this story. There are just too many questions that remain unanswered, both from Bergdhal and the Obama Administration.
My hope, in regard to Sgt. Bergdhal, is we can clear up any appearance of duplicity, this would include the Obama Administration as well. It would be a real shame if such traitorous acts were in fact true … a real shame, indeed. Particularly considering the unimaginable suffering and sacrifice of all those who have faithfully served in the U.S. Military and fulfilled their oath honorably … even unto death.
God bless our military.
And God bless America.
UPDATE (June 2, 2014):
The Associated Press is reporting a Pentagon investigation in 2010 concluded Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal abandoned his post:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and after an initial flurry of searching the military decided not to exert extraordinary efforts to rescue him, according to a former senior defense official who was involved in the matter.
… Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to comment on earlier reports that the sergeant had walked away from his unit, disillusioned with the war. Such matters “will be dealt with later,” Hagel said.
But the former Pentagon official said it was “incontrovertible” that he walked away from his unit.
The military investigation was broader than a criminal inquiry, this official said, and it didn’t formally accuse Bergdahl of desertion. In interviews, members of his unit portrayed him as a naive, “delusional” person who thought he could help the Afghan people by leaving his army post, the official said.
Furthermore, the inconsistencies of the official story with the 2010 Pentagon investigation, and the testimony of soldiers in his unit, is raising more and more serious and troubling questions, both for Bergdhal and the administration.
Via Charlie Spiering:
“Not only has this nebulous non-story been put out for years but you know these soldiers of 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Division were threatened with legal repercussions if they spoke about Bergdahl. Everybody officially mandated silencing of what we saw has been so frustrating,” Bethea explained on BBC World Service Radio today.
Bethea served in Sgt. Bergdahl’s unit, and was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2014
CNN’s Jake Tapper also reported that many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him.