President Obama’s team doesn’t know if Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army sergeant held captive in Afghanistan until his release was obtained this weekend through the release of five top Taliban leaders, is a deserter.
“You’re citing a circumstance with a lot of ifs attached to it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during Monday’s press briefing. A reporter had alluded to allegations that Bergdahl walked away from his post, and asked if national-security adviser Susan Rice “misspoke” when she said that Bergdahl had “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
The Defense Department is still “evaluating all of the circumstances surrounding [Bergdahl's] initial detention and his captivity, and that process continues, obviously, directly with Sergeant Bergdahl now that he is in U.S. care,” Carney told reporters.
“The first and foremost thing that we have to recognize is that Sergeant Bergdahl was in captivity for five years, held against his will,” Carney said.
Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have told CNN’s Jake Tapper they’re angry about the prisoner exchange that secured his release.
“According to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary,” Tapper wrote.
“At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl,” Tapper reported, “and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.”