I don’t know what happened the night Bowe Bergdahl went missing. I had seen the hash tag “Bring Bowe Home” for a really long time on Twitter and didn’t know much about the story. Saturday, when I saw the headline, “Taliban Releases U.S. Soldier Held For Five Years” posted by Mediate, seen here, I thought “great news…the Taliban usually just beheads the ‘captured’ and puts the video on YouTube,” and shared the link. Yes, this is where I’m admitting to thoughtlessly sharing a link (which is an unpopular right we as Americans have).
After doing some digging, Bowe Bergdahl is a home school kid from Idaho, who wanted to be in the French Foreign Legion. He is apparently very bright and very well read. He was a barista before joining the army in 2008.
I woke this morning to find out that this was not actually a “release”. It was a trade. A trade for five Taliban detainees held at GITMO (A prison for U.S. enemy combatants). Here’s the BBC with a list of the five detainees released in the deal-something that had been under negotiations for a year now, according to ABC NEWS. In the same ABC NEWS article, it points out that Bergdahl was the only known “captured” soldier in the entire Afghan conflict. I was also pointed towards an article by the now deceased journalist Michael Hastings, who had written for Rolling Stone Magazine on the topic in 2012, you can view that here. In it, Hastings writes that Bergdahl might have just walked off base out of frustration and disillusionment. This is the same Rolling Stone’s writer who was credible enough to print statements by high ranking American military officials, some of which eventually lead to the removal of a popular, and arguably successful, Army General. All those factors made me really re-examine the story. While poking around, I found this old tweet from 2009. This is a screen shot:
I was forced to ask myself, “is this what closing Guantanamo looks like?” Is this the process we go through?
I don’t know Bowe, or his dad (who has a less than typical YouTube page for a guy from Idaho) or their beliefs. Who knows? Bowe knows… and he’ll probably be asked some questions about what he knows when he returns.
What kind of ramifications will this trade have? What kind of effect will this have on young people, who see Bowe, as a disillusioned intellectual who just went for a stroll through the mountains along the Afghan/Pakistan boarder, during wartime, and live to tell the tale.
The whole thing kept bringing me back to one question: How can a generation obsessed with government transparency, embrace a deal made in such a manner?
I don’t know the answer to that, I’ve literally spent my entire Sunday pondering that question.