LOS ANGELES, June 4, 2014 — Jani and Bob Bergdahl got the news that their son Bowe was being released after five years in Taliban custody. For five years, the only prisoner of the Afghanistan War held by the Taliban, was being released. Sargent Bergdahl was a hero coming back to Hailey, Idaho for a parade. His home town never gave up hope. The hero was returning. His parents were feted at the White House. They gave poignant remarks to the world. Despite America drowning in bad news, it had a desperately needed feel-good story. An American hero was returning home.
Then the bloom rapidly came off the rose.
First came the news that Bergdahl was traded for five radical Islamic members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo Bay. These high-ranking Jihadists will be free to continue killing Americans around the globe. The deal may have even been illegal. President Obama signed a law requiring he give Congress 30 days notification before making such a deal. Congress never received notification, insisting that Obama ignored his own law. The Obama administration countered that the law contains exemptions, and that Bergdahl’s rapidly declining health falls under the exemptions in the law. Congressional hearings will sort that out. At least Bowe Bergdahl was a hero finally coming home.
Then the narrative got worse. Minutes after Bergdahl was released, rumors began swirling that the narrative of Bergdahl as a hero was a complete lie. Bergdahl was being called a traitor by members of his own platoon.
The new narrative was that Bergdahl voluntarily left his command and abandoned his post. In the middle of the night, he wandered off.
While the media often relies on uncorroborated innuendo, this time a heavyweight chimed in. Fox News Military Analyst Colonel David Hunt is a man’s man and a soldier’s soldier. He is pure military, not political. Liberals wishing to sneer at the opinion of any military man on Fox News should know that in his second book, Hunt offers high praise for Vice President Joe Biden and questions the wisdom of the Iraq War. Hunt stated that he had multiple sources verifying the story of Bergdahl as a traitor. Hunt is known for usually having at least four sources. If Hunt says it, take it as fact.
The changed narrative led to more questions than answers.
Was Bergdahl a deserter or a collaborator? A deserter abandons his own side. A collaborator takes up arms with the enemy and fight against America. That is John Walker Lindh territory, where words such as treason are appropriate.
If Bergdahl supported the Taliban, why would they keep him in captivity for five years?
Maybe Bergdahl was neither a hero or a traitor. Maybe he was a victim. He could have been brainwashed, but that would only explain anything that occurred while he was in captivity. How does an American soldier get brainwashed on the job? Was he another Major Nadal Hassan, ready to explode?
His supporters are clinging to the brainwashed narrative out of a combination of shock, disbelief and perhaps an unwillingness to admit being duped. After all, Bergdahl was not from some Northern California anti-war hippie area like Lindh was. The Bergdahls from Idaho, known for potatoes and political conservatism. His parents spoke at an Idaho Republican Party function in 2010. They were greeted to loud cheers by the GOP faithful. GOP Governor Butch Otter worked tirelessly to secure Bergdahl’s release. Massachusetts liberals like John Kerry toss their ribbons overboard and vocally criticize their fellow troops. Republicans do not this. Do they?
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel did. Why not Bowe Bergdahl? Disillusionment can strike anyone.
Everything is now being questioned down to the scraggly hairs making up Bob Bergdahl’s beard. Is it an Idaho mountain man Duck Dynasty thing, or an Islamic ritual? Are the Bergdahls now Muslims? If so, do they identify with the innocent Afghani people or the radical elements of the Taliban? How could they identify with the people who kidnapped their son?
Does Bowe Bergdahl have Stockholm Syndrome? Does he now sympathize with the Taliban? More importantly, did he in the beginning back in 2009?
Bergdahl defenders want to know why the traitor narrative is only coming out now. This is one question that has been answered. For five years, his seething platoon members were ordered to stay silent by the military. If this is true, who gave this order to subvert the truth?
Did President Obama know the details about Bergdahl when making the deal to free him? Freeing a hero for five terrorists is a bad deal Americans can debate. Freeing a traitor for five terrorists is a bad deal that could be criminal. 16 American soldiers died looking for Bergdahl. Is anybody going to answer for their deaths?
Pundits can speculate, because that is what they do. The administration will insist it did the right thing, because this administration always does. Obama critics will assume malevolent intentions, and they have plenty of other episodes such as Benghazi to make the malevolence claim plausible. The claim can still be false, and past behavior, while providing a guide, is not evidence of wrongdoing itself in this case.
Bowe Bergdahl cannot be a hero, a traitor and a victim. Can he? Are those contradictory scenarios even possible together?
This is one time where frustrated people on all sides can bang their fists on the table and demand answers. Then everyone needs to sit back and listen, because most of us do not know a damn thing.
Colonel Nathan R. Jessup is wrong on this one. We can handle the truth, and we deserve to hear it.