We ask for your prayers for Bowe Robert Bergdahl from Hailey, Idaho, and his family as he is held as a prisoner of war.
Bowe is a U.S. Army soldier who as a 23-year-old Private First Class went missing on June 30, 2009 near the village of Yahya Khel in Afghanistan which is near the border with Pakistan. Four years and several Taliban offers later, he is still in their custody and the Obama administration shows little interest in getting him released. The opportunities have presented themselves time and again for the president to negotiate Bergdahl’s release but vague promises to do everything he can have come up empty.
Since his capture, the Taliban have released five different videos showing him to be their captive. The latest video was from May of 2011. The Taliban originally demanded $1 million and the release of a Pakistani scientist as well as 21 other prisoners held by the United States.
In early 2012, efforts by the Obama administration to secure Bergdahl’s release in exchange for five Taliban leaders held in Guantanamo Bay Cuba broke down. The Taliban first proposed that deal while Afghan President Karzai eased his opposition to joining peace talks with the Taliban. The prisoner exchange is the first item on the Taliban’s agenda before even starting peace talks according to Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail. “First has to be the release of detainees,” Suhail said when asked about Bergdahl. “Yes it would be an exchange. Then step by step, we want to build bridges of confidence to go forward.”
For a nation that is normally so reverent toward servicemen, the U.S. has been shockingly willing to forget about Bergdahl’s plight, and seems loathe to make a public attempt to negotiate for him, even when the other side is making it clear they want to negotiate. The unspoken scandal behind all of this is that the U.S. had offered to unilaterally release the five detainees from Guantanamo Bay in March of 2012 simply as a “confidence builder” for prospective peace talks. Before that release could be finalized, a U.S. soldier killed 16 civilians in Kandahar and the 2012 talks, along with any “confidence builders” were scrapped.
The Obama administration has been noncommittal about any recent Taliban proposals. “We’ve been very clear on our feelings about Sgt. Bergdahl and the need for him to be released,” State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki said. “We have not made a decision to … transfer any Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, but we anticipate, as I’ve said, that the Taliban will all raise this issue.” The Obama administration has become skeptical that a peace deal with the Taliban will occur before the bulk of NATO forces leave in 2014.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Bergdahl’s life is in danger. Mullah Sangeen Zadran is listed by the U.S. State Department as the “Shadow Governor” for Afghanistan’s Paktika province and a commander of the Haqqani Network and he was among six fighters killed in a drone attack in the North Waziristan Tribal district of Pakistan according to Pakistani intelligence officials. Zadran was involved in the 2009 capture of Bowe and many believe he is being held in the same area as the drone strike.
Bowe’s father, Bob Bergdahl is so frustrated that covert diplomacy has been unable to free his son, he is learning the Pashto language so he can contact militants himself and has urged President Barack Obama’s administration to push harder for his release. “I feel I have to do my job as his father,” he said. “I’m working toward a diplomatic and humanitarian solution.” He has been reaching out to regional experts and contacting the media-savvy Taliban through its website.
In a related article, a neighbor to Bob Bergdahl describes his feelings concerning the efforts he is taking which you can read by clicking here: https://www.salon.com/2011/11/24/my_neighbor_the_prisoner_of_war/
You may also click here to see a video released by the Taliban of Bowe in 2009:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0snkYYCcb4 and another video of Bowe’s father Bob in a plea to the Taliban asking for his release:
Talks are at least being tried again and the Taliban is openly offering to release Bergdahl and the only thing they want in return is something the U.S. was going to do anyhow, release those five detainees. Unimaginably, President Obama has said NOTHING. This “trade” is a no-brainer. Prisoner exchanges are a long-accepted part of the process of ending a war, and the reticence the administration continues to show is bound to undermine that process, prolonging the war and putting more lives in jeopardy.
There are a number of ongoing efforts on the internet and Facebook to make donations to help Bowe’s father to travel to Pakistan and a card drive to urge Washington to take action. We here at FGGAM encourage everyone to write or call your members of congress and encourage them to make every effort they can to bring Bowe back home.
We ask for all to lift Bowe and his family in prayer.