Army Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl broke his silence about leaving his base in Afghanistan to NPR’s popular “Serial” podcast. In it, he claims he deserted his unit “to highlight poor leadership” and rapidly realized he was “in over his head.”
“Doing what I did is me saying that I am like, I don’t know, Jason Bourne. I had this fantastic idea that I was going to prove to the world that I was the real thing,” he stated. “You know, that I could be what it is that all those guys out there that go to the movies and watch those movies, they all want to be that, but I wanted to prove that I was that.”
He claimed he fled his unit in order to “create a DUSTWUN – a radio signal that stands for ‘Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown’ – to highlight poor leadership within his unit.” Bergdahl knew his disappearance would cause a “hurricane of wrath” and a manhunt. He immediately realized he was “in over his head,” changed plans, and become Bourne-like by collecting “intelligence and look for the Taliban before turning himself in as a way of limiting the amount of trouble he faced.”
“And what I was seeing, from my first unit all the way up into Afghanistan, all I was seeing was, basically, leadership failure, to the point that the lives of the guys standing next to me were, literally, from what I could see, in danger of something seriously going wrong and somebody being killed,” he insisted.
Bergdahl said the Taliban captured him after he was lost. Between six and seven men with AK-47s approached him on motorcycles in the desert, taking him as a prisoner of war for five years.
“And they pulled up and just… That was it,” he said.
President Barack Obama secured Bergdahl’s release by trading him for the freedom of five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Many conservatives and others within the Republican Party criticized the deal as liberating five dangerous jihadists in exchange for a soldier who may have committed treason. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told The Boston Herald that Bergdahl is a deserter and “would convene a hearing if the sergeant was not punished.” Bergdahl has not received word yet if his case will “go before a court-martial.”
“If it comes out that he has no punishment, we’re going to have to have a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee,” explained McCain. “And I am not prejudging, O.K., but it is well known that in the searches for Bergdahl, after — we know now — he deserted, there are allegations that some American soldiers were killed or wounded, or at the very least put their lives in danger, searching for what is clearly a deserter. We need to have a hearing on that.”
Six soldiers died on missions seeking intelligence on the whereabouts of or actively intending to rescue Bergdahl: Private First Class Morris Walker, Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen, Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss, Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews, Private First Class Matthew Martinek, and Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey.
A House Armed Services Committee report released this week revealed that the five Taliban jihadists released for Bergdahl have resumed “threatening activities” alongside Al Qaeda since their liberation within Qatar, and that the Qatari government is actively seeking to remove them from the country.