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Bergdahl freed; Obama trades 5 Gitmo Taliban for Idaho paratrooper

Bergdahl freed; Obama trades 5 Gitmo Taliban for Idaho paratrooper
Sgt. Bowe S. Bergdahl in an undated photo before his 2009 deployment to Afghanistan. (Army photo)

The secretary of defense announced this morning that Army paratrooper Sgt. Bowe S. Bergdahl, the only American held as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan was released in exchange for five Taliban fighters detained at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.“A few hours ago, the family of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was informed by President Obama that their long wait for his return will soon be over,” said Charles T. “Chuck” Hagel, who is the first former enlisted man to lead the Pentagon.

Hagel said he informed Congress of the decision to transfer the Gitmo Five to Qatar from where they will begin their lives.

“Sgt. Bergdahl is now under the care of the U.S. military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan,” he said. “We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family.”

Bergdahl, then a private first-class with the “Spartans” of the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, disappeared June 30, 2009, while deployed to Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

The paratrooper is a native of Idaho, where he was homeschooled and studied ballet before joining the Army.

Bergdahl in a video released in January by his Taliban captors.
Bergdahl in a video released in January by his Taliban captors.

President Barack Obama issued his own statement from the White House.

“Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years,” the president said.

“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,” he said. “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.”

In Feb. 19 post on his website Allen West Republic, former Florida GOP congressman and retired Army lieutenant colonel Allen B. West said he was concerned about the unanswered questions surrounding Bergdahl’s absence from duty.

“Even Bergdahl’s abduction is puzzling. According to the Washington Post, the Army infantryman assigned to a unit from Alaska, was taken captive after walking off his base in the eastern province of Paktika, a decision that confounded his comrades and commanders in Afghanistan,” the colonel wrote.

“I spent two and a half years in Afghanistan and an American Soldier doesn’t just walk off a Forward Operating Base (FOB) or anywhere alone,” he wrote. “It was SOP even in Kabul that you never went anywhere without a battle buddy. Furthermore, leaving the installation required signing out with destination, time of departure and estimated time of return.”

West wrote then that he first wanted to bring Bergdahl home. Then, he wanted the Army to determine if he in fact was a deserter, who merits action through the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

National security analyst Kate Clark for Afghanistan Analysts Network speculated March 9 that Bergdahl would be traded for five detainees: Khairullah Khairkhwa, Fazl Mazlum, Nurullah Nuri, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Abdul Nabi Omari. There are 18 Afghani nationals, still held at Guantanamo, down from a peak of more than 200.

Clark wrote that the White House’s deal to bring Bergdahl home in exchange for five Taliban was scuttled by opposition inside Afghanistan and on Capitol Hill.

But, after the week Obama just had, the timing of the release is as suspect as anything else it does—the perfect subject changer for the Sunday chat shows before the president visits Europe.

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  • Jim_Simson

    This kid is a piece of trash that should have been left in Afghanistan. I hope he is thoroughly debriefed and given PORK for his first meal to determine if he is just guilty of Desertion in a War Zone or if he is guilty of treason also. We returned 5 dangerous prisoners for an American we should be executing.
    This is just another example of a lawless administration and a feckless congress that allows it to continue. Another day of shame.

  • Dustoff

    Hmmmmmmmmm. I wonder. Anything to get the VA mess off the front page.

  • a_man_of_wealth_and_taste

    well, wonder no more. republicans are fishing around for some scandal that will stick. so far, they haven’t had too much luck, have they? isn’t it typical though that they would stoop so low as to question the integrity of one of america’s finest in an attempt to portray this exchange as anything other than a commitment to our fighting men? this is just another incident that will come back to bite them in the Åss!

  • Borghesius

    The reason that none of these real, legitimate, and serious scandals have stuck is that large numbers of media and political hacks such as yourself would rather have their self esteem stroked by having their side “win” and have the other side ground into dust that they don’t give a flying fig whether anything is right or wrong.

    Even if this man were the reincarnation of Audie Murphy, we should not have turned over these (5) people in exchange. This is the opposite of commitment to our fighting men and women.

    You will have to prove to me that this was evidence of a commitment to our fighting men and women, because I have yet to see any of that from this administration, just political calculation.

  • a_man_of_wealth_and_taste

    “just political calculation”? like it’s a dirty word? but surely it occurs to you that republicans are using just your same argument in order to score political points with those who are ready to accept any negative comments slung out by the likes of fox news. and really, we don’t know the full circumstances about these released detainees. we have some pretty inquisitive minds in the nsa and who knows what they might develop to gain critical information — if you get my drift. i would say that the future holds the answer to the ramifications of this swap — it’s a little soon to judge but mccain and the rest of the big mouths telling us that one soldier is not worth the trouble may later change their tune with little or no explanation.

  • Borghesius

    I will wait with bated breath. If we have “turned” any of these people I would be surprised.

    Prisoner exchange. Our one sergeant who is unlikely to ever fight against the Taliban again in exchange for one Taliban non-comm of no significant leadership value, after the Law required 30 day notify and response period.

  • a_man_of_wealth_and_taste

    is it because of low mental capacity that conservatives are so easily duped? there has been no evidence of for any of those spurious charges. only false assumptions by instigators like john hayward and fox news who hope that by flinging enough mud, some of it is bound to stick. fortunately for america, the mentalities that do gobble up this swill are unlikely to have any more than a tiny influence in the greater scheme of things.

  • James Meighen

    You see any jump wings on his chest? Then he wasn’t a paratrooper. Don’t disgrace paratroopers by calling him a paratrooper. He may have served with an Airborne unit, but he was no paratrooper. He’s a dirty, nasty leg.

  • LibertyLane

    Whatever else McCain may be to you, amanof, he was a prisoner of war who suffered torture and who knows what else! I’ m sure he takes this to heart a lot more than you could understand…unless of course you have experienced the horror of war personally? And West is not just a “big mouth” either. He served our country honorably and still does. Furthermore, NO ONE has said that one soldier is not “worth the trouble” as you put it. They are saying that negotiating with terrorists is against the law, and the POTUS did that, and did not inform Congress (AGAIN) as is stated in the law. He is the president, not the king!

  • bonniewheeler

    Sgt. Bowe S. Bergdahl, the man that Obama traded dangerous terrorists for did not deserve the favors. He was so ashamed to live in America that he should have been left where he was. Why did he return to a nation that he has so much disdain for? Why Obama would even consider bringing him back? Americans,never force people to live here against their will . As a matter of fact, his kind only serves to harm this, the greatest nation in the world. My message to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, There are planes and ships leaving everyday.
    Choose your preferred mode of transportation and get out of this great nation of ours. I’m sure that somewhere in this world you can find a place more to your liking.

  • burnt press

    The pictures of Bowe Bergdahl show a man malnourished.. and very hungry, why are not the pictures of those at Gitmo showing the same treatment ??/

  • Jerry

    SHAME on you Obama. Shame is what I feel as a VET of both OIF,OEF I’ve lost friends fighting those five’s Armies of follower they will now be able to re-join the fight for evil and to take over the world one life at a time or many at once.Do we soon forget 9-11 and what theses murderers have done.

  • Carmelo Junior

    5 generals for a private. Not even Carter would have done that! And this guy doesn’t looks like he was suffering captivity. This is one of the biggest FARSES of the Obama regime.

  • mariandavid

    Interesting – there is as yet no evidence whatsoever that Bergdahl was a deserter, just lots of stories that he wandered away on several (by some accounts many) occasions – a far more common event incidentally in quiet areas than some would believe – and always returned. And yet, just to claim political points, far too many disparage someone who did at least stand up and go and fight. A bit sad for a page that claims to support ‘guns and patriots’.

  • Colvin

    Listen. I don’t think that it’s fair to call for an execution based on a few lines in an online article, but be careful before trolling with insulting blanket statements of a huge percentage of the people. Any “man of wealth and taste” understands that you should never insult the person or demographic behind an opinion. However, it’s not a bad thing to contest an opinion- it’s what makes our government one of the best. In any case, do you really think, from an objective, logical viewpoint, that giving five men for one is a reasonable exchange? Further, do you think that breaking the long held non-negotiation with terrorist groups is a good idea? Do you not foresee any consequences, such as more abductions? Chad, I have to disagree with your accusing the president of treason. Plenty of time and thought goes into the President’s decisions, and I’m not sure either of us would do a better job. However, Man of Wealth and “Taste”, Look at bigger pictures than the one you hold, and if the swill-gobbling “mentalities” won’t effect the greater scheme, then why not let them be?