Six former platoon mates of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are circulating book and movie deals that would tell their side of the story with the soldier who left his post while on duty in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years.
A draft of book proposal was obtained by Yahoo News
and reported on Wednesday. It depicts Bergdahl as a "premeditated" deserter who "put all of our lives in danger."
They also asserted that the former captive might have aided the Taliban. Yahoo interviewed two of Bergdahl's former platoon mates for its report: Evan Buetow, his former team leader, and Cody Full, Bergdahl's former roommate.
Bergdahl, 28, was captured after leaving his observation post in eastern Afghanistan in the early hours of June 30, 2009. He was released
on May 31 near the Pakistan border in exchange for five Taliban terrorism suspects being held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
President Barack Obama announced the release in a Rose Garden news conference flanked by Bergdahl's parents.
Critics said the administration paid too high a price and questioned whether Bergdahl had deserted his outpost before he was captured.
Bergdahl was placed on desk duty last month at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and he was questioned for 11 hours last week in two private sessions with Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who is leading the Army's inquiry, Yahoo reports.
Dahl is preparing a report for the Pentagon. Officials will then decide what action to take, if any, against Bergdahl.
The platoon mates' book proposal is facing resistance by publishers, Yahoo reports, because it could be used by conservatives to attack the Obama administration.
"I'm not sure we can publish this book without the right using it to their ends," Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, which is owned by Simon & Schuster, told one of the former platoon mates' agents in an email. The email was obtained by Yahoo.
She added that "conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama — and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.'"
Durand was referring to a group that spearheaded a book that questioned former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's record during the Vietnam War while he was running for president in 2004, Yahoo reports.
Kerry is now secretary of state. The veterans' organization disbanded in 2008.
Durand did not respond to requests for comment.
"We do not comment about our editorial process," Paul Olsewski, Atria's vice president and director of publicity, told Yahoo.
But another issue is that Bergdahl's former colleagues could be key witnesses in the Army investigation. Buetow and Full insisted to Yahoo that their objectives were not political — only to present the truth as they saw it.
They also questioned Obama's praise for Bergdahl at the Rose Garden ceremony in May.
"There was no way we were going to sit down and be quiet while Obama was calling him a war hero," Buetow said. "We're just trying to tell the truth. It's not my fault this would make Obama look bad."
"We didn't politicize this," Full told Yahoo. "They brought his parents out at a White House Rose Garden ceremony and presented him as a hero.
"Why wouldn't you just have a quiet press release?" he asked. "Why do you have to have a big parade? You don't do that for the parents who have kids who have died in Afghanistan."
The soldiers' Hollywood agent, Bettina Sofia Viviano, told Yahoo that she was pitching the proposal to studios as an "action-adventure in the vein of 'Lone Survivor' or 'Saving Private Ryan.'"
Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl's lawyer, declined to discuss the plans of the former platoon mates.
"I'm not commenting on a book proposal that I haven't seen," Fidell told Yahoo. "We have made a decision not to try this case in the media.
"I think publishers will have to decide whether this has been hijacked for political purposes."
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