Conflicting details on the capture and captivity of Bowe Bergdahl
Doctors say Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is recovering from his 5 years of being held by the Taliban. Bergdahl was set free in a controversial prisoner exchange, but there are new but conflicting details on his capture and captivity. Monday, military doctors at Landstuhl say Bergdahl’s health is improving. But in the days since his dramatic release from the Taliban, the Pentagon, fellow soldiers and Afghans have presented two vastly contradictory portraits of Bergdahl.
Deserter or good soldier? The first dispute arises from the circumstances of his disappearance. A military investigation found he had wandered off base more than once. Still, Afghan witnesses told CNN that the morning he was taken, he was forcibly abducted and beaten as he resisted. While some of his platoon-mates allege he may have been trying to contact the Taliban.
“I heard it straight from the interpreter’s lips as he heard it over the radio, and at that point, it was like, this is kind of snowballing out of control a little bit. There’s a lot more to this story than just a soldier walking away,” said Evan Buetow, Bergdahl’s former team leader.
Were troops killed during the search for him? In the massive manhunt that ensued after he went missing, fellow soldiers say six troops were killed. The Pentagon says there is no such evidence.
Then, there is his behavior during captivity: collaborator or survivor? Military officials say he attempted escape more than once, was held in a cage and physically abused. A Taliban source says Bergdahl sometimes played soccer with his captors, was allowed to celebrate Christmas and Easter, and even choose his own food. U.S. officials have not been able to confirm this account.
“You want to humanize yourself, so that the guards will start to trust you. So that when they stop watching you so closely, you can try to escape,” said David Rohde, who was also kidnapped by the Taliban.
A friend of the Bergdahl family and former Marine as well as former Marine Corps Captain, Matthew Hoh, is pleading for time.
“And that’s what I’m concerned about, you know, is that all the facts aren’t out, and it’s rush to condemn him.”
There is no immediate plan to transfer Bergdahl back to the U.S. Doctors say that will be based on the speed of his recovery and reintegration. He has not spoken to his parents since his release.