While President Obama plays up returns on "an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoners of war home" questions regarding Sgt. Bergdahl remain.
Questions regarding his capture whether on patrol, or that "a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison" did he just go missing and wound up captured, or did he simply desert his post have raged for years. In August of 2010 there were reports circulating that Bergdahl might even have joined the Taliban, reports that US Military officials deny.
The Pentagon condemned and refuted the Taliban's claim Monday that the only known American soldier in their captivity had been converted to Islam and is training fighters in bombmaking and ambush tactics.
Private Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from an American military base in southeastern Afghanistan in June 2009. Last week, one of his captors was interviewed, shedding light on a case that has baffled U.S. military officials.
A Taliban deputy district commander in Paktika province said the 24-year-old American had converted to Islam in the months after his capture. He said Bergdahl, from Idaho's Sun Valley, had trained Taliban fighters in bomb-making and ambushing convoys.
"When I saw him for the second time, he had totally changed. He had a beard and he treated all of us very respectfully. He seemed very relaxed in our company. He was no longer scared," said the commander, who called himself Haji Nadeem.
But U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. John Dorrian dismissed the claim and vowed that the kidnappers would be brought to justice if Bergdahl is harmed.
"The Taliban spokesmen are notorious for their puffery, and for exploiting captives through propaganda," Dorrian told Fox News. "We condemn his kidnapping and demand SPC Berhdahl's immediate release by his captors. The perpetrators responsible for SPC Bergdahl's abduction will be brought to justice if anything happens to him."
So who is Sgt. Bergdahl and why might he be worth the exchange of five Taliban operatives? A revealing article in Rolling Stone weaves a tale of confusion and intrigue, one which raises more questions than it answers, which seems to be the case with many of the emerging stories surrounding the circumstances of his release through Obama's barter with terrorists as chips. It also calls into question the value of American servicemen, placing a high premium on their capture by hostile forces or insurgents in exchange for high value prisoners or other bargaining and concessions.
"The future is too good to waste on lies," Bowe wrote. "And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be american. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting."
The e-mail went on to list a series of complaints: Three good sergeants, Bowe said, had been forced to move to another company, and "one of the biggest shit bags is being put in charge of the team." His battalion commander was a "conceited old fool." The military system itself was broken: "In the US army you are cut down for being honest... but if you are a conceited brown nosing shit bag you will be allowed to do what ever you want, and you will be handed your higher rank... The system is wrong. I am ashamed to be an american. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools." The soldiers he actually admired were planning on leaving: "The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at. It is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies. The few good SGTs are getting out as soon as they can, and they are telling us privates to do the same."
In the second-to-last paragraph of the e-mail, Bowe wrote about his broader disgust with America's approach to the war – an effort, on the ground, that seemed to represent the exact opposite of the kind of concerted campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of average Afghans envisioned by counterinsurgency strategists. "I am sorry for everything here," Bowe told his parents. "These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live." He then referred to what his parents believe may have been a formative, possibly traumatic event: seeing an Afghan child run over by an MRAP. "We don't even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks... We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them."
Bowe Bergdahl had a different response. He decided to walk away.
In the early-morning hours of June 30th, according to soldiers in the unit, Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment?
Yes, his team leader responded – if you took your rifle and night-vision goggles, that would cause problems.
Bowe returned to his barracks, a roughly built bunker of plywood and sandbags. He gathered up water, a knife, his digital camera and his diary. Then he slipped off the outpost.
In late July of 2009 Michelle Malkin had questions regarding the circumstances and various reports of Bergdahl's capture.
My prayers are with the family of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier seen on the Taliban abduction video released this weekend. The Jawa Report has the full clip.
All Americans should hope and pray for his release from jihadi custody.
There’s one question I have, though, about strange details initially reported on the case — details which have been deleted from later wire dispatches. Read:
"The circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture weren’t clear.On July 2, two U.S. officials told the AP the soldier had “just walked off” his base with three Afghans after his shift. He had no body armor or weapon and they said they had no explanation for why he left. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
On July 6, the Taliban claimed on their Web site that five days earlier “a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison” and was captured by mujahadeen.
In the video, Pfc. Bergdahl said he was lagging behind a patrol when he was captured.Details of such incidents are routinely held very tightly by the military as it works to retrieve a missing or captured soldier without giving away any information to captors."
Update: Lt. Col. Ralph Peters had tough words about Pfc. Bergdahl’s reported desertion yesterday and has a warning for the media:
"PETERS: On that video, he is collaborating with the enemy. Under duress or not, that’s really not relevant. He’s making accusations about the behavior of the military in Afghanistan that are unfounded, saying there are no rules. He’s lying about how he was captured, saying he lagged behind a patrol.
Julie, I’ll tell you, any 11 Bravo infantryman will tell you, that’s not how it works. In a war zone, any soldier is aware of where all his buddies are. If it’s a night patrol, you’re sure of where the guy in front of you and behind you is. So we know this private is a liar. We’re not sure if he’s a deserter. But the media needs to hit the pause button and NOT portray this guy as a hero…"
And so questions and controversy have been the hallmarks surrounding this young soldier from the beginning. Questions abound about the videos that began appearing shortly after his capture, whether his captors were using him as a propaganda tool, or saving him as a future bargaining chip. The LA Times roughly a year after his capture posed the following:
U.S. military officials denounced the video as a violation of the laws of war. "The Taliban are using the soldier for propaganda purposes," said Navy Lt. Robert Carr, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "We are continuing to do everything possible to recover the soldier and are using all available assets to get him back safely and unharmed."
Bergdahl, an Idaho native, is a member of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, based at Ft. Richardson, Alaska. His unit is involved in counterinsurgency operations in a region thick with Taliban along the Pakistani border.
U.S. military officials said that neither Bergdahl's capture nor the release of the video would alter their strategy in Afghanistan, where American forces are trying to bolster a wobbly central government and halt an alarming decline in security.
But now that Bergdahl has been publicly identified, he represents a propaganda weapon that his captors are likely to continue to use. The U.S. government had resisted naming Bergdahl since he was captured after straying from a U.S. base June 30 on the eastern edge of the country.
I don't know what the truth is regarding young Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and I have little confidence that we will EVER know. As a Veteran myself I am grateful that he soon will return to his family, to take up his life once again, but at what cost? I feel very strongly that every effort should be made to rescue genuine prisoners of war, that our country owes them this effort and promise. I'm just not sure whether this soldier is a deserter or a genuine casualty of war. Certainly America has lost much in this process, and the cost to us is far more than the Gitmo 5, as we shall soon see. Even our British Allies are wondering ...
Or have I been eating paint chips again?