Confirmed by Wikileaks: Bowe Bergdahl deserted and tried to contact the Taliban
The Wikileaks document dump of hundreds of thousands of messages and reports from the US military in Afghanistan contains some vital information on the case of Bowe Bergdahl.
Two days after Bergdahl disappeared, US signals intelligence intercepted radio and cell phone communications that show Pvt. Bergdahl was in a village about two miles away asking around to see if anyone spoke English. He wanted to contact the Taliban, say the intercepts.
Jake Tapper has the story of Bergdahl's disappearance as told by former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow:
Within days of his disappearance, says Buetow, teams monitoring radio chatter and cell phone communications intercepted an alarming message: The American is in Yahya Khel (a village two miles away). He's looking for someone who speaks English so he can talk to the Taliban.
"I heard it straight from the interpreter's lips as he heard it over the radio," said Buetow. "There's a lot more to this story than a soldier walking away."
Sgt. Beutow has a gift for understatement:
[T]he platoon was at a small outpost, consisting of two bunkers and a perimeter of military trucks. Buetow was in one of the bunkers, and Bergdahl was supposed to be in a tent by one of the trucks.
Then a call came through on the radio.
"I'll never forget that line, 'Has anyone seen Bergdahl?'" says Buetow.
Firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon say Bergdahl disappeared while he was on guard duty.
Buetow says Bergdahl was about to go on guard duty, but when a fellow soldier went to wake him, he was not in his tent. He had left behind his weapons, his bullet-proof vest, and night vision gear.
"I immediately knew, I said, 'He walked away. He walked away,'" said Buetow.
Bergdahl walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary, according to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon.
Buetow was involved in the immediate search for Bergdahl, pushing a patrol into a nearby local village.
"Immediately as we left the base, two small boys walked up to us, and they told us that they saw an American crawling in the weeds by himself," said the former Army sergeant. The search followed that lead, and others, for months.
"For 60 days or more, I remember, just straight, all we did was search for Bergdahl," said Buetow, "essentially chasing a ghost because we never came up with anything."
At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for him.
One of the Wikileaks documents is a transcript of intercepts of conversations between Taliban operatives. It contains the surprising information that the Taliban was willing to trade Bergdahl right then and there for 15 Taliban held by the US and some cash.
Later, in the same document dump, U.S. armed forces reported intercepting the following radio conversation between Taliban operatives:
1- [We] ARE READY FOR THEM.
2- ALL THE NUMBERS ARE MESS IT. WE ARE WWAITING FOR THEM.
1- LOL THEY KNOW WHERE HE IS BUT THEY KEEP GOING TO WRONG AREA.
2- OK SET UP THE WORK FOR THEM.
1- YES WE HAVE A LOT OF IED ON THE ROAD.
2- GOD WILLING WE WILL DO IT.
1- WE WERE ATTACKING THE POST HE WAS SITTING TAKING EXPLETIVE HE HAD NO GUN WITH HIM. HE WAS TAKING EXPLETIVE, HE HAS NOT CLEANED HIS BUTT YET.
2- WHAT SHEAM FOR THEM.
1- I DONT THINK HE W 2-YES LOOK THEY HAVE ALL AMERICANS, ANA HELICOPTERS THE PLANES ARE LOOKING FOR HIM.
1- I THINK HE IS BIG SHOT THAT WHY THEY ARE LOOKING FOR HIM.
3-CAN YOU GUYS MAKE A VIDEO OF HIM AND ANNOUNCE IT ALL OVER AFGHANISTAN THAT WE HAVE ONE OF THE AMERICANS.
1- WE ALREADY HAVE A VIDEO OF HIM.
U.S. officials later confirmed that an American soldier had indeed been captured by Taliban forces.
The military communication then reveal the following information:
THE ELDERS WERE ASKED BY THE TALIBAN TO A TRADE BETWEEN THE U.S. AND TALIBAN. THE TALIBAN TREMS [terms] ARE 15 OF THEIR TALIBAN BROTHERS IN U.S. JAIL AND SOME MONEY IN EXCHANGE FOR PVT BERGDAHL. THE ELDERS ASSURED ME THAT PVT BERGDAHL IS ALIVE AND THAT HE IN NOT BEING HARMED.
THE ELDERS ARE GOING TO TO HAVE ANOTHER MEETING WITH THEMSELVES TO DISCUSS HELPING US THIS AFTERNOON. THEY REQUESTED TO HAVE ANOTHER MEETING WITH ME THE SAME TIME TOMORROW. THE MEST ANP COMMANDER IS ALSO WILLING TO HELP IN EVERY WAY HE CAN; EVEN TO THE EXTENT OF REQUESTING ASSESTS/MONEY FROM DAWLAT KHAN TO AID THE MEST ELDERS TO HAVE RESOURCES (CAR, FUEL, ARM TO DEFEND THEMSELVES) FACILITATING MEETING WITH THE TALIBAN. THE ELDERS ALSO ASSURE THAT THEY WILL DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO TAKE POSSESSION OF PVT BERGDAHL. THEY SAID THAT THEY WILL APPEAL TO THE TALIBAN BY SAYING THAT THEY ARE WHITE BEARDED MEN AS ELDERS. DURING OUR MEETING, THEY WANTED FOR ME TO TALK TO PVT BERGDAHL VIA ICOM TO ENSURE THAT HE IS DOING OKAY. TRIED TO GET COMMS WITH NO LUCK.
From there, the documents reveal that efforts by U.S. officials to retrieve Bergdahl proved fruitless
The Army has known all along that Bowe Bergdahl was not only a deserter, but a probable traitor. And since Bergdahl's desertion and effort to make contact with the Taliban occurred before any alleged torture or mistreatment, there will be no Stockholm Syndrome defense for him.
The Wikileaks intercepts are a smoking gun. The administration can try to smear the men in Bergdahl's unit all they want, it won't make a difference. Their credbility has been confirmed and their critics revealed as shallow, despicable partisans.
How do you suppose the White House is going to spin this?