Taliban Posts Bowe Bergdahl's Release Video, And It's A Graphic Reminder Of Horrors Of War
As lawmakers continue to debate the legality of President Obama's POW extraction, the reality of the situation was brought home Wednesday, after the Taliban posted a video of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl being released to U.S. forces. In the footage — posted on a Taliban website, because they're apparently tech-savvy these days — Sgt. Berdgahl is shown draped in Afghan robes, with a shaved head. "Don't come back to Afghanistan. Next time we catch you, you won't leave here alive," one man warns him, moments before he's handed over.
The original 17-minute-long propaganda film (originally reported by the Associated Press, but now removed) shows the final moments of Sgt. Bergdahl's five long years in captivity. The images of the gaunt and rapidly blinking American are all the more shocking when contrasted with the five top Taliban prisoners arriving in Qatar, casually greeting other Taliban officials and then driving away in their suave-looking SUVs (one of which, the Wall Street Journal points out, happens to be a Porsche).
Said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby in a statement to ABC News: "We have no reason to doubt the video's authenticity, but we are reviewing it. Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs."
The debate surrounding the circumstances of the swap continues to rage on. Five high-ranking Taliban prisoners who'd been held at Guantanamo — and who will now be living in the Persian Gulf emirate for the next year— were exchanged for Sgt. Bergdahl last Saturday afternoon, under Obama's executive order.
The swap unleashed a slew of Republican criticism — mostly, it seems, because the top officials in the House and the Senate were kept out of the loop. Only Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was told about the White House's plan, and only then on the Friday before the POW's release.
Now, Bergdahl is being investigated for deserting his unit back in 2009 — if he's found guilty, he could spend up to five years in prison — and he still hasn't seen his family. Instead, he's staying at a U.S. Army medical center in Germany undergoing treatment, according to CNN.