The New York Times reported over the weekend that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has told medical officials that his Taliban captors locked him in a metal cage in total darkness for weeks at a time as punishment for trying to escape. The story also went on to say that he is ready physically but not emotionally to reunite with his family back in Idaho.
There has been a flood of former military colleagues of Bergdahl in Afghanistan on the airwaves this week bashing their former colleague for deserting them with congressional Republicans chiming in as well. But on CBS' Face The Nation on Sunday morning, journalist David Rohde said everybody should just chill out for a bit. While working as a New York Times reporter, Rohde was abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan back in 2008 and held for seven months before he was able to escape.
I caution Americans," Rohde told host Bob Schieffer."There’s all these rumors that came out during my case and many were not true. It’s really important to sort of wait and get the facts here. A lot of the reporting on this story has been way off and we need to hear from Bowe Bergdahl about what happened that night. And on another note, I still today, five years later, feel tremendous regret for going to an interview with the Taliban, getting kidnapped, and what I put my family through. Whatever caused Bowe Bergdahl to walk off that base — did he desert, did he have a mental breakdown — he will regret this for the rest of his life. I guarantee you."
On the same program, Georgia Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss said he couldn't corroborate whether Bergdahl has been tortured, but graciously conceded it could be true:
Over at ABC's This Week, Michigan Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, about to leave the House to become the latest conservative talk show host, weighed in. He said that releasing five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison "was the wrong message at the wrong time and we are going to pay for this decision for years."
"I think that the Department of Defense needs to do a very thorough investigation," Rogers said. "Obviously, those soldiers are very, very concerned and upset by it and — and if their account is true, they should be. You jeopardize other soldiers when you walk away from your post, period and end of story. And that's a serious, serious matter in a combat zone. But it needs to be thoroughly investigated by Department of Defense. This — the administration trying to change the narrative through these anonymous sort of, you know, leaks to the paper about what the deal was and wasn't, none of which I found credible, by the way, needs to stop. They should stop all of that.'
On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace promised viewers that the show would spend the entire hour, "Setting the record straight," though it featured (like all of these shows) a lot of sharing of opinions but few new details about the controversial POW.
In addition to having a former platoon member of Berghdal who trashed him, the show also featured
Cheryl Brandes and Ken Luccioni, parents of private first class Matthew Martinek who was killed on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009. They say he died in looking for Bergdahl.
General Jack Keane, a former Vice Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, said that the notion to "leave no solider behind" isn't apt if the solder deserted his base.
"If he defected, that would be matter. We would not go after him, no rescue, and no negotiations for him," Keane replied. "But this is still a United States soldier. And we want to bring him home and we want a full accounting of what took place and his behavior.
Everyone in the administration certainly knows that he deserted his post. That is a fact. They're not going to make a lot of statements about that, because frankly, we want this soldier to come home, be interrogated by an expert, and let's get all the facts on the table.
And if it drives us to a court-martial, so be it. But we don't want him right now in Landstuhl (Germany) with a lawyer because we're making statements that would have to protect him in his due process."