CNN landed the interview, but the dramatic allegation comes from Sgt. Evan Buetow -- Bowe Bergdahl's team leader. To briefly recap what we've learned today, according to Fox News, "many" US intelligence officials have harbored concerns that Bergdahl may have "actively collaborated" with the Taliban enemy. The New York Times and Fox both published scoops regarding Bergdahl's desertion note, which may have suggested (whatever that means) a desire to abandon his American citizenship. And now this:
Within days of his disappearance, says Buetow, teams monitoring radio chatter and cell phone communications intercepted an alarming message: The American is in Yahya Khel (a village two miles away). He's looking for someone who speaks English so he can talk to the Taliban. "I heard it straight from the interpreter's lips as he heard it over the radio," said Buetow. "There's a lot more to this story than a soldier walking away." ... "For 60 days or more, I remember, just straight, all we did was search for Bergdahl," said Buetow, "essentially chasing a ghost because we never came up with anything." At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for him, according to soldiers involved in those operations...Many soldiers in Bergdahl's platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance. "Following his disappearance, IEDs started going off directly under the trucks. They were getting perfect hits every time. Their ambushes were very calculated, very methodical," said Buetow. It was "very suspicious," says Buetow, noting that Bergdahl knew sensitive information about the movement of U.S. trucks, the weaponry on those trucks, and how soldiers would react to attacks. "We were incredibly worried" that Bergdahl was giving up information, either under torture, or otherwise, says Buetow.
"Honor and distinction." This is deadly serious stuff, literally. Bergdahl's unit leader on the night he evidently deserted claims that intercepted communications from shortly after Bergdahl's disappearance indicated that he may have been proactively seeking out the Taliban. The kindest explanation is that Bergdahl was already being held against his will in some fashion and was desperate to communicate with his captors as a means of self-preservation. But it's pretty clear that Buetow doesn't believe that. He takes things a step further, theorizing that Bergdahl may have lent his expertise to the enemy in order to improve the effectiveness of their ambushes and IEDs. If your instinct is to wave that theory away as extreme, consider two factors: (1) Wikileaks cables appear to corroborate a major part of Buetow's account, and (2) the UK Daily Mail printed this all the way back in 2010:
A captured American soldier is training Taliban fighters bomb-making and ambush skills, according to one of his captors and Afghan intelligence officials. Private Bowe Bergdahl disappeared in June 2009 while based in eastern Afghanistan and is thought to be the only U.S. serviceman in captivity. The 24-year-old has converted to Islam and now has the Muslim name Abdullah, one of his captors told The Sunday Times.
In a vacuum, I wouldn't necessarily put too much stock in the word of the Taliban, or Afghan intelligence officials. But now we have Buetow's accusations to add into the equation, and people on both sides of this conflict have told a hauntingly similar story. These fears look more realistic than ever. The president must have known Bergdahl's case was a minefield, but some combination of arrogance and tone-deafness led him to disregard internal concerns from the defense and intel communities, and to convince himself that this news would be met with euphoric celebrations. In case you were curious, Obama is "unapologetic" over the decision, of course. The same can't be said of many Senate Democrats who've suddenly gone, well, AWOL on this story. I wonder why. Could it be that unlawfully releasing five hardened Taliban commanders from US custody with loose (if any) security precautions in place in exchange for an apparent deserter and alleged enemy collaborator might be...politically toxic? As you know, I've been scratching my head over this whole thing for days now. Finally, some pieces seem to be falling into place. Between the "expected euphoria" report, the Guantanamo Bay closure experiment angle, and the crucial detail that Team Obama was reportedly itching to relieve themselves of these particular jihadists for some reason before Bergdahl became a hostage, I suspect Allahpundit may be right on the money:
They wanted to clear Gitmo but knew they’d need political cover to free those five savages, so they got Bergdahl in return. Simple as that.— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) June 3, 2014
The simple calculation came to a halt when the public, press, and Bergdahl's former brothers didn't react the way the White House anticipated.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography