The Curious Case of Bowe Bergdahl

In 1986 an Israeli fighter-pilot named Ron Arad was shot down over Lebanon. Eventually he was handed over to Hezbollah and after several failed prisoner swaps was never returned to Israel. He is presumed dead.

Arad has become a sort of folk-hero in Israel with songs written about him and legends born of him as well.

Over the last five years, the same was becoming true of Bowe Bergdahl, the only prisoner of war held in Afghanistan by the Taliban. Bergdahl became a rallying point for many, particularly with the mantra “no man left behind.” My mom even owns and wears a POW wrist band for him.

My parents were visiting this weekend when my mom ran across a headline on her phone that Bergdahl was being released. For whatever reason, I felt uneasy. I shook it off thinking I must be paranoid, watched too much Homeland, or something. But I kept thinking back to some comments I had seen on an article a couple of years ago about how Bergdahl hadn’t been “taken” so much as went AWOL.

Then the news surfaced of how/why the Taliban had decided to release Bergdahl. It was a prisoner exchange. A friend, a Naval veteran, posted on facebook “Five Terrorists for a deserter?” He was making a point that this stunk of Obama but I started to realize, a lot of people were not happy about the way this release went down. And I kept thinking to myself, “whatever happened to ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists?'”

And then there was that word. Deserter. And suddenly stories were coming out. CNN had one about fellow soldiers who served with Bergdahl. Then The Blaze (opposite side of the spectrum) posted this about supposed tweets (now removed) alleged to have been made by Bowe Bergdahl’s father.  And of course, there is the bizarre issue of the legality of the prisoner exchange, which by all accounts appears to have been done illegally.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has gone on the record stating the prisoner exchange was necessary and expedient because of a risk to Bergdahl’s life.  Also, of note is this info now being released:


But the release of terrorists held at Gitmo still raises serious questions. Even former POW turned Senator John McCain is highly critical of how things went down.  What do we know about these dangerous men we let loose on the world as to if they will return to their lives of terror, well, according to Richard Engel we’ve been given this assurance:

Forgive me if I appear skeptical as to how that will be carried out.

I have no idea if Bergdahl wandered away and went AWOL or was captured. I have no idea if this is a horse-and-pony show to try and boost the President’s poll numbers that’s gone totally pear-shaped. I do know that his release has had many of us falling down the rabbit hole trying to figure out what exactly is true, what is totally fictional and what began in truth and is now more made up. I would like to believe that Bergdahl has not deserted and that everything is on the up and up but I can’t shake that no one’s stories appear to add up. It reminds me of a saying I once heard, “there’s three sides to every story, your’s, mine and the truth.” I guess no one but God will ever know all the facts. But here are soldiers who we should continue to mourn no matter what the outcome of Bowe Bergdahl’s homecoming:


***UPDATED 2:58 EST***to add this link from Rod Dreher. Like Dreher (who I wanted to see’s take on this), I am somewhat disgusted?, annoyed?, baffled?, take your pick, about how the opinions of what is going on lines up with whether one is an Obama fan or not. Grrr.


One thought on “The Curious Case of Bowe Bergdahl

  1. It is a very difficult situation to decipher, and the feelings about it should not go along party lines. I am very, very nervous about trading terrorist prisoners for Bergdahl, although I am glad he is home. Have we now painted a target on the back of every American soldier abroad by doing so? Thank you for a thoughtful column.


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