By Brett Gillin
In 2009, Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from his post while serving in Afghanistan. He was eventually captured by Taliban forces and held captive for over five years. On May 31, the United States completed a controversial swap of five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, and then the questions really started flying. Now, months after the supposed end of the Bergdahl investigation, the silence from military officials is puzzling and leading to even more questions being asked.
According to this report in the Washington Post, the latest investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance was launched in June, while many of his fellow soldiers fired accusations that Bergdahl voluntarily walked away from his post. Still many others began questioning whether or not the Obama administration was authorized to perform the five-for-one prisoner swap in the manner in which it was conducted. To this point, no official answers to any of these questions exists, thanks to the results of the investigation still being under wraps.
The Washington Post contacted Army officials and received no updates. Army Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, an official spokeswoman at the Army’s headquarters and Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the Pentagon, both confirmed earlier this week that there was no official update on the case. Even Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene R. Fidell, has declined to comment on his client’s case.
While the military noted that upon completion of the investigation, the findings would have to go through a legal review before being presented to Army officials, there has been no timeline set as to when that can be expected. The Pentagon’s press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, recently told reporters that the investigation is currently under review and that the investigation has been completed.
One of the things that may be complicating the release of the investigation is an accusation that the United States tried and failed in paying a ransom for Bergdahl. According to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R. –Calif.), the United States attempted to pay an Afghan intermediary an undisclosed amount of money in order to help free Bergdahl from his Taliban captors. That intermediary, according to Hunter, disappeared with the money and did not aid in freeing Bergdahl.
While official channels have denied any truth to Hunter’s claims, Joe Kasper, Hunter’s spokesman, told reporters that something must be amiss if the investigation is dragging on this long. “Even though the process for investigating permits delays, there’s no reasonable excuse for the amount of time this has taken. Secretary McHugh should be motivated to get this done, but at this point he’s shown he’s committed to sitting on the investigation, which will get no complaints from the administration.”
Bergdahl may be facing serious charges of desertion or going AWOL if the investigation concludes that he was not captured by Taliban soldiers, but instead left of his own volition.
The official investigation was completed in the beginning of October.