Bowe Bergdahl back in the USA
Bowe Bergdahl arrived in the US this morning, transported from a German military hospital to a military medical center. in San Antonio.
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last American prisoner of war, returned home early Friday morning, his hero's welcome supplanted by a controversial prisoner swap and his reputation tarnished by accusations he was a deserter.
He arrived in San Antonio, Texas, from a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where he'd been recuperating since his release May 31 in exchange for five Taliban figures held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The 28-year-old Bergdahl, the longest held American soldier since the Vietnam War, was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center.
"The Army will continue to ensure that Sgt. Bergdahl receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
Bergdahl's full physical recovery may take months; his public rehabilitation will likely take longer.
The swap that freed Bergdahl has stirred up a political storm in Washington. And almost-daily revelations about Bergdahl's time in Afghanistan have not helped matters.
"Everybody has a piece of the story, and very few people have the whole story," a Defense Department psychologist told reporters.
The backlash has gotten so bad that a public celebration in his hometown of Hailey, Idaho -- one that the 8,000 residents there had waited five years for -- has been scrapped for fear of protests.
"It isn't over for us," Bergdahl's father, Bob, told reporters last week. "In many ways, it's just beginning for Jani and I, and our family. There's a long process here."
On Thursday, The Daily Beast published two letters the solider reportedly wrote to his family while imprisoned by the Taliban.
In the letters -- dated 2012 and 2013 -- Bergdahl discusses his life and partially explains why he disappeared.
"Leadership was lacking, if not non-existent," he wrote.. The conditions were bad and looked to be getting worse for the men that where actuly (sic) the ones risking thier (sic) lives from attack," he wrote.
"If this letter makes it to the U.S.A., tell those involved in the investigation that there are more sides to the cittuwation (sic)," Bergdahl said. "Please tell D.C. to wait for all evadince (sic) to come in."
A timeline shows that these letters were written after it became apparent that Mr. Bergdahl was going to be exchanged for Taliban prisoners. He knew he was going home and was already thinking about his defense against charges of desertion.
And a pretty lame defense it is. "I deserted my post because there was no leadership..."? "I deserted because conditions were bad..."? I hope he wasn't expecting four star acccommodations.
I don't know what his defense is going to be if he's brought up on charges, but he better find something better than this.
Editor Lifson wondered when he would be made available to the press. My guess is never, although some carefully selected, sympathetic reporter - Barbara Walters coming out of retirement for the interview of a lifetime? - might be given access to him. If not, then we will be treated to daily doses of wisdom from his father Robert Bergdahl, telling us, no doubt, that his son should not be punished for following his conscience, or something.