Last year, U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was the center of a controversial deal that saw the United States get as close to negotiating with terrorists as it ever has. In exchange for Bergdahl, who was in captivity for five years, the White House released five known Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay. A timeline of Bowe Bergdahl — from his possible desertion to captivity, and the aftermath from the controversial deal that brought him home — provides some insight into what has become a maelstrom of opinions on military service, prisoner swaps, and President Obama's executive powers.
Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after he left his post, was charged Wednesday with one count of desertion and one count of misbehaving before the enemy. The disappearance of the Idaho native prompted the U.S. Army to undertake numerous search and rescue efforts that some say led to the deaths of other soldiers. Why the former prisoner of war has become a contentious point warrants a quick look at related events that now span nearly six years.
May 2008: Bergdahl enlists in the U.S. Army.
June 30, 2009: Bergdahl is reported missing. He is captured by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan.
July 18, 2009: Taliban releases a video of Bergdahl, in which he says, "Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country."
Dec. 25, 2009: Another video from the Taliban is released. In it, Bergdahl says, "This is just going to be the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense."
April 7, 2010: The Taliban releases another video of Bergdahl.
May 2012: Parents Bob and Jani Bergdahl announce that the U.S. government and the Taliban are in secret negotiations to secure a prisoner swap for Bergdahl.
January 2014: The U.S. government receives a new "proof of life" video of Bergdahl, who appears to be in poor health.
Feb. 23, 2014: The Taliban says it has suspended talks to release Bergdahl.
May 31, 2014: In a controversial deal, the U.S. government agrees to exchange five Taliban commanders for Bergdahl. He was in captivity for five years.
June 3, 2014: Obama, in a Poland news conference, defends the White House's decision despite questions surrounding Bergdahl's capture: "We still get back an American soldier if he's held in captivity. Period. Full stop." The Pentagon confirms a 2010 investigation that determined that Bergdahl left his post. The investigation did not conclude he was a deserter. The Pentagon confirms a 2010 investigation that determined that Bergdahl left his post. The investigation did not conclude he was a deserter. A New York Times report looks into whether consequent search missions for Bergdahl led to six soldier deaths.
June 4, 2014: Video of the prisoner exchange is released by the Taliban.
June 5, 2014: Critics say the deal violated a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act, which Obama signed into law in December 2013 and stipulates the defense secretary must inform Congress at least 30 days in advance of any actions that would move detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The law also says that released prisoners would not be in a position to threaten the United States.
March 25, 2015: Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy. If convicted, he could face life in prison.