Citing concerns about Bergdahl’s health, the Obama administration, through the government of Qatar, worked out the deal in which Bergdahl’s freedom was secured. In exchange, the United States freed from Guantanimo and sent to Qatar a quintet of terrorists classified as “high risk” and “likely to pose a threat.”
Part of the deal is that the five will remain in Qatar for at least a year and will be monitored. In Afghanistan, however, the feeling is that the five ex-prisoners will soon rejoin the fight to topple the Afghan government.
While the prisoner release, which Republican lawmakers contend was illegal because Congress was not notified 30 days in advance of the releases, is an issue between the administration and Congress, Bergdahl may have to answer some questions himself once he is cleared to do so by medical professionals.
To be clear, we are always relieved when an American citizen in military service returns home.
There’s little doubt that Bergdahl was disillusioned with the war in Afghanistan, though the exact circumstances of his capture remain unknown. Many U.S. officials, however, believe that he was captured by the Taliban after he walked away from his post. In 2009, a Rolling Stone article recounted emails he sent to his parents just before his capture in which he said the “future is too good to waste on lies” and that life was too short to waste “helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American.” His words indicate a mindset that could have resulted in him walking off his post.
Regardless of whether a breakdown resulted in him deserting or whether he was captured when he fell behind his group, his disappearance placed more U.S. service personnel in immediate danger. In Afghanistan, predictability in movement courts death, and the methods that had to be employed by search teams made their movements exactly that — predictable. Six of Bergdahl’s fellow American service members were killed in the ensuing months as they searched for their missing comrade.
Army officials have indicated that they’re unlikely to pursue any disciplinary action against Bergdahl given what he has endured for the last five years. We suspect it was a hell to which few people can relate.
Still, those who risked their lives — and the families of those soldiers who lost theirs — in attempting to find Bergdahl deserve to know the truth of what happened. They are owed that, at the very least.