On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reported that many of the details released on the exchange of five highly dangerous Taliban officials for captured Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl were released by the Taliban, while American officials remained quiet on the matter.
“We have actually been gettng more info today from the Taliban than we have from spokespersons here at the hospital in Landstuhl,” Engel told host Mika Brzezinski. The hospital had not given the media any information on when Bergdahl might be sufficiently healthy to be released or answer any questions aside from releasing statements claiming Bergdahl’s health is stable.
“The Taliban have been very forthcoming with information,” Engel noted, adding that many of the details of how the trade occurred were released by Taliban spokesmen and not the American government. Those details accompany a video released by the Taliban that shows Bergdahl being handed over to United States officials. Engel notes one particular detail described in Taliban statements clearly visible in the video–the request by the United States that the Taliban shine a green light in the air. “The Taliban went back and said, ‘Well, we don’t have a green light, how about a white flag?’ The Americans said fine, this is all according to a Taliban spokesman. And you can see in the video they are carrying a white flag on a stick,” Engel explains.
The Obama administration has come under heavy scrutiny for the exchange of five high-ranking Taliban leaders for Bergdahl, particularly in light of revelations from those who served with Bergdahl that he appears to have chosen to desert his battalion in the middle of the night, thus finding himself under control of the Taliban, and in doing so endangering the lives of those assigned to find him. President Obama has since apologized to Congress for not being transparent with them about the prisoner swap but has divulged little information on the matter. The White House has also yielded little in light of questions, with Press Secretary Jay Carney refusing to answer CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked if, given the Taliban’s ties to the Haqqani network, the United States negotiated with terrorists.
Watch Engel’s report on Morning Joe via MSNBC here.