The Pentagon knew where Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was being held through much of his captivity but decided against launching rescue operations because military officials thought he had deserted his fellow soldiers, it has been claimed.
The Washington Times
cites sources close to the situation that say military commanders turned down chances to rescue Bergdahl because they did not want to risk American lives for a soldier they felt had walked away from his post.
Attempts to find Bergdahl in the weeks after he went missing resulted in the deaths of six American soldiers.
According to the Times, military officials monitored Bergdahl's location via spies, drones, and satellites, and even knew how many men were guarding him at times.
The paper also reports that a rescue operation was labeled "high risk" and became less of an option in recent months, when it appeared the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which was holding the now 28-year-old American, wanted to bargain for his release.
"Joint Special Operations Command always had the rescue mission on the table and it was entirely under their ownership, but the big question centered on whether Bergdahl was somebody you risk lives for when you still have time and space to maneuver diplomatically," an unnamed congressional aide told the Times.
"The prisoner swap was being built up as the only option that was available."
The source in the Times story claims military officials on the ground in Afghanistan had been working on a deal for Bergdahl's release in recent months until the White House swooped in and struck a deal that ultimately freed five Taliban detainees
— including three senior members of the terrorist group — from Guantanamo Bay on Saturday.
Another source told the Times, "the administration wanted to close the door on this no matter what the price was."
That same source, a former intelligence official, said a prisoner exchange was the most likely outcome to the case because of the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's capture.
"Military commanders were loath to risk their people to save this guy. They were loath to pick him up and because of that hesitancy, we wind up trading five Taliban guys for him," the source said. "The mentality was, 'We're not going to lose more of our own guys on this."
Special operations officials, according to the Times, were not happy with the deal that was ultimately struck.
In the days before he went missing, Bergdahl expressed anti-American sentiment in an e-mail to his father.
"I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools," Bergdahl wrote, according to a 2012 feature in Rolling Stone.
"I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting."
That attitude has led to a firestorm from politicians and soldiers who say that Bergdahl should not be treated as a hero when he returns to American soil. Typical of the reaction is Sgt. Evan Buetow, Bergdahl's team leader at the time he went missing, who told Newsmax TV
, "I don't want him regarded as the example that soldiers should look up to, because he is the exact opposite of that."
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