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The Swap For Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who apparently abandoned his post in Afghanistan, is headed home to a world of controversy. We’ll dive in.

In this image taken from video obtained from Voice Of Jihad Website, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, stands with a Taliban fighter in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, released a video showing the handover of Bergdahl to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, touting the swap of the American soldier for five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo as a significant achievement for the insurgents. (AP)

In this image taken from video obtained from Voice Of Jihad Website, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, stands with a Taliban fighter in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, released a video showing the handover of Bergdahl to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, touting the swap of the American soldier for five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo as a significant achievement for the insurgents. (AP)

The release of American Afghan war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban Saturday landed first as straight great news for most people over the weekend.  Then, the immediate twist:  it was a swap for five Taliban held at Guantanamo.  Then a ton of complications.  Bowe Bergdahl had walked off his own base five years ago.  Maybe deserted.  The Taliban detainees were commanders, now headed for freedom.  Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers – platoon –mates – were unhappy.  So is Congress.  This hour On Point:  the unfinished story of Bowe Bergdahl, the swap, and Afghanistan.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Andrew Tilghman, Pentagon bureau chief for the Military Times. (@andrewtilghman)

Nathan Bradley Bethea, former member of Sgt. Bergdahl’s unit in Afghanistan. (@inthesedeserts)

David Rohde, Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist for Reuters and the Atlantic. Author of “Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in A New Middle East.” (@RohdeD)

From Tom’s Reading List

Military Times: Source: Bergdahl may have walked off base more than once – “An internal military investigation concluded in 2010 that there was little doubt Bergdahl walked away from his unit before he was captured. That investigation, known as an AR-15-6, remains classified and has not been released publicly, but several officials familiar with it have disclosed its results under condition of anonymity.”

The Wall Street Journal: Behind Bowe Bergdahl’s Release, a Secret Deal That Took Three Years – “Sgt. Bergdahl’s return marks the culmination of a three-year diplomatic effort to bring warring sides in Afghanistan to the negotiating table, according to a reconstruction of events compiled through interviews with administration, defense and intelligence officials, including some directly involved in the negotiations. The goal of reconciliation never materialized, but the prisoner exchange, which sent the five Afghan Taliban to Qatar, has convinced some in Washington that the U.S. and the Taliban could one day find common ground.”

The Daily Beast: We Lost Soldiers in the Hunt for Bergdahl, a Guy Who Walked Off in the Dead of Night — “Bergdahl also deserves sympathy, but he has much to answer for, some of which is far more damning than simply having walked off. Many have suffered because of his actions: his fellow soldiers, their families, his family, the Afghan military, the unaffiliated Afghan civilians in Paktika, and none of this suffering was inevitable. None of it had to happen. ”

 

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