U.S. soldier freed from captivity in Afghanistan

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl exchanged for five Afghans detained at Guantanamo Bay
Associated Press
May 31, 2014

The only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed by the Taliban in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Obama administration officials said Saturday.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special operations forces by the Taliban Saturday evening, local time, in an area of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. Officials said the exchange was not violent and the 28-year-old Bergdahl was in good condition and able to walk.

In a statement, President Barack Obama said Bergdahl's recovery "is a reminder of America's unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield."

The handover followed indirect negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, with the government of Qatar serving as the go-between. Qatar is taking custody of the five Afghan detainees who were held at Guantanamo.

According to a senior defense official traveling with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Singapore, once Bergdahl climbed onto the noisy helicopter he took a pen and wrote on a paper plate, the "SF?" — asking the troops if they were special operations forces.

They shouted back at him over the roar of the rotors: "Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time."

Then, according to the official, Bergdahl broke down.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, is believed to have been held by the Haqqani network since June 30, 2009. Haqqani operates in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and has been one of the deadliest threats to U.S. troops in the war.

The network, which the State Department designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 2012, claims allegiance to the Afghan Taliban, yet operates with some degree of autonomy.

Officials said Bergdahl was transferred to Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, for medical evaluations. A defense official said he would be sent to Germany for additional care before eventually returning to the United States.

The defense official said Bergdhal was tentatively scheduled to go to the San Antonio Military Medical Center where he would be reunited with his family. The military was working Saturday to connect Bergdahl with his family over the telephone or by video conference.

Several dozen U.S. special operations forces, backed by multiple helicopters and surveillance aircraft, flew into Afghanistan by helicopter and made the transfer with the approximately 18 Taliban members. The official said the commandos were on the ground for a short time before lifting off with Bergdahl.

The official added that the U.S. still believes that Bergdahl was being held for the bulk of the time in Pakistan, but it was not clear when he was transported to eastern Afghanistan.

All of the officials insisted on anonymity in order to discuss details of Bergdahl's transfer.

Officials said Obama spoke with Bergdahl's parents Saturday, shortly after their son had been taken into U.S. custody. Bergdahl's family was in Washington on a previously scheduled visit when they received the news.

The parents of the freed soldier, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, said in a statement that they were "joyful and relieved."

"We cannot wait to wrap our arms around our only son," they said.

The U.S. has long been seeking Bergdahl's release, but efforts have intensified as Obama finalized plans to pull nearly all American forces out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

"It is our ethos that we never leave a fallen comrade. Today we have back in our ranks the only remaining captured soldier from our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Welcome home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl," said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Officials said the Taliban signaled to the U.S. in November that they were ready to start new talks on the issue of detainees. After the U.S. received proof that Bergdahl was still alive, indirect talks began, with Qatar sending messages back and forth between the two parties.

The talks intensified about a week ago, officials said, resulting in Bergdahl's release and the transfer of the Afghan detainees.

The five Guantanamo detainees departed the base on a U.S. military aircraft Saturday afternoon. Under the conditions of their release, the detainees will be banned from traveling outside of Qatar for at least one year.

Obama and the emir of Qatar spoke last week about the conditions of the release, which have been codified in a memorandum of understanding between the two countries, officials said.

The administration is legally required to notify Congress in advance about plans to release Guantanamo detainees. An administration official said lawmakers were notified only after U.S. officials knew they had Bergdahl, but before the transfers took place.

The detainees are among the most senior Afghans still held at the prison. They are:

—Abdul Haq Wasiq, who served as the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence

—Mullah Norullah Nori, a senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces in late 2001

—Khairullah Khairkhwa, who served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and had direct ties to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden

—Mohammed Nabi, who served as chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, Afghanistan, and later worked as a radio operator for the Taliban's communications office in Kabul

—Mohammad Fazl, whom Human Rights Watch says could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 as the Taliban sought to consolidate their control over the country.

Taliban and Afghan officials could not be reached for comment. In Pakistan, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said her government was "not aware of" Bergdahl's release or the negotiations leading up to it. She declined to comment further.

The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's capture remain something of a mystery. There has been some speculation that he willingly walked away from his unit, raising the question of whether he could be charged with being absent without leave (AWOL) or desertion.

 

Comments

mikeylikesit

now we should go get our soldier in mexico.

The Big Dog's back

If it were up to Repubs he'd still be there.

Donegan

If Obama would have gotten us out in 2009 like he promised he would not have been captured. Another lie blamed upon someone else. Get a clue dem drone or as me and Stalin call them "Brain damaged useful idiots"

ContraryAnn

If Bush and the Repubs never had gotten us in....

S*it flies both ways depending on the party.

Remember, these are the people who beheaded an American journalist.

Contango

Re: "Bush and the Repubs (and Dems),"

Pretty simple for even the most brain damaged:

No Sept. 11th, no Afghanistan invasion.

ContraryAnn

No 9/11/2001, no WMDs, no Iraq 2003, no "Mission Accomplished", no Surge, No Pakistan nukes.

Then I could say No 1980 - no heavy weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq to fight the Russians, thus no heavy weapons to use against us.

There was little or no proof the Afghan Taliban was involved on 9/11 BUT the Taliban was a great target because US voices had spent years talking about Taliban atrocities.

Even the most simple can trace history.

Ronald Reagan built our Taliban enemies. He even invited them to the White House. The plan to assist the Taliban became known as the Reagan Doctrine - designed to defeat Communism in Africa, Asia and South America. It was an explosive expansion of the limited Carter plan to which you point.

He compared the Iran-Contra freedom fighters to our Founding Fathers in 1985..

Contango

Nice revisionist history ya got goin' there.

So why did Pres. Clinton shoot cruise missiles into Afghanistan?

Why did "Operation Cyclone" begin under Pres. Carter?

ContraryAnn

Which Operation Cyclone? 1944? 1954? late 1979? 2008?
The danger when you post a 'supportive reference' is that someone just might refer to it and shoot you down.

Brzenski ( however you spell it) launched the 'cyclone' to which you refer as a limited incursion. By 1986 Reagan had inflated it to $630 billion annually.

Now to WHOM does YOUR Operation Cyclone belong?

ContraryAnn

"The REAGAN DOCTRINE (Google, etc.) was THE foreign policy in the United States, enacted by Ronald Reagan during his presidency, to help ELIMINAGTE the communist governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that were supported by the Soviet Union.
"Implementation of this plan provided both open and private support to guerrilla and resistance movements in Soviet-supported communist countries. This doctrine was the foreign policy of the United States from about 1980 to 1991."

Contango

Re: "The REAGAN DOCTRINE,"

What was your point?

You're flailing.

---------------

Re: "ELIMINAGTE (sp)"

What the h*ll does that mean?

Contango

Re: "Which Operation Cyclone?"

Do you not understand context?

Contango

Re: "No Pakistan nukes."

"Pakistan began focusing on nuclear weapons development in January 1972,"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pak...

deertracker

That's a change in tune from just the other day pooh. I thought it was all about stabilizing the country?!

Glad you finally woke up.

Contango

Re: "stabilizing the country?!"

According to your pal, Pres. Obama, the job's done (mission accomplished).

deertracker

Your brain is obviously damaged Dummygen. 2009? Really?

bluzie

Donegan, Obama promised and delivered getting us out of Iraq in 2009. We are ending the Afghanistan War now. Remember Bush declared War twice. Obama has kept his promises. You may not like them, but we will close Guantanamo too.

GoBigLex2001

I am glad we got our soldier back. However, when did we start negotiating with terrorists??

ContraryAnn

When did we not negotiate with terrorists?

I'm old enough to remember the Viet Cong... too bad we are not still negotiating with someone in Vietnam to get back the rest of our POW/MIA. Does the name John McCain mean anything?

North Korea ... occasionally we get another body through, wait for it, negotiation.

NAZIs... we negotiated prisoner exchanges throughout WW II. Who will say NAZIs are not terrorists?

The major time the US did NOT negotiate with terrorists was in 1794 in Pennsylvania when President George Washington, exercising the rights given to him by the Second Amendment he requested, took the "well-regulated" militias from four states and put down a domestic rebellion by homegrown terrorists.

CIVIL WAR which we are so gloriously celebrating for five years was a rebellion by domestic terrorists. Ultimately both sides negotiated the end to those hostiiities. And they negotiated prisoner exchanges all the time.

Just a few 'since when' examples.

Contango

Re: "When (snip)"

By your definition, the Revolutionary War patriots were "domestic terrorists."

Pretty broad brush you're painting with.

ContraryAnn

Contango. Thank you.. My post stands corrected.

By definition the 30% who rebelled were not/never called themselves "patriots" (loyal to the 'father' of their government - King George III).
Were they 'domestic terrorists'? In the eyes of the British - and many Americans - yes. They destroyed property, tarred and feathered an innocent man, called out the 'Father' (even though the taxes already had been repealed), and engendered rebellion.
Yeah, that qualifies as terrorism by today's definition.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The rebels won, so we got to write the history. Read the accounts in British texts.

BTW.. John Brown (his body lies a'moldrin in his grave) was a domestic terrorist.)

Harriet Tubman was a 'terrorist' in the eyes of Southern plantation slaveowners.

'Terrorism' is in the eyes of the 'terrorized'.

Contango

Re: "Yeah, that qualifies as terrorism by today's definition."

Using current morality in order to define and label past events is often called "recency."

That attitude is extremely dangerous from a standpoint of understanding the motivations of the participants.

Recency also leads to the error of historical revisionism, of which you are grossly at fault.

ContraryAnn

How am I "grossly at fault"?
Thomas Paine said, "We must all hang together or we shall all hang separately." Even the likes of Patrick Henry (the "liberty or death" guy), Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, knew if 'our side' didn't win, they were traitors and terrorists.
Thomas Paine also said (pay tenshun)

“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”

I'm confident of my standing with the latter.

Contango

Re: "How (snip)"

Now you're merely throwing quotes out of context in a poor attempt to prove a point that "terrorism" is how and where YOU find it - sloppy thinking.

The late 19th Century term was: Anarchists.

Why don't you resurrect that one?

ContraryAnn

That would be perfect. One of those killed a president, right? Lots of American 'Patriots' are calling for such action.

ANARCHISTS it is! Tea Party ANARCHISTS.

Contango

Re: "Tea Party ANARCHISTS."

And early 20th Century progressives knew themselves to be Fabian Socialists.

Marx and Engels used the terms socialism and communism as synonyms.

Anarchists vs communists - the third civil war should be interesting!

ContraryAnn

WE DIDN'T, btw. Qatar (that's a country) negotiated the release.

Now, enlighten us, just how would YOU have gotten our soldier back?

As soon as you bless us all with our abundant knowledge, we'll make sure it gets right to the President and Military.

What? Got nothin'?

Licorice Schtick

When beaten, Contango just changes the subject.

Republicans were all about getting POW bergdahl back - until President Obama did it...

http://crooksandliars.com/2014/0...

Blowfish

Taliban are not terrorist by the historical definition. They are despicable, vile vermin but they are not terrorist. They did harbor terrorist which was our justification to invade "their" country. They were ruling Afghanistan when we removed them installing a more compliant government. At that point they became resistance fighters using asymmetrical warfare to remove an occupying foreign army. This was a POW swap.

Invoking Godwins... If Taliban are terrorist, then the French and polish resistance fighters under Nazi occupation were also terrorist.

ContraryAnn

Godwin would be correct.

Blowfish

Lol, the statement is actually mine. Godwin's Law means something else. Google it for giggles. I believe you invoked it yourself.

Pages