Army investigators wrap up questioning Bergdahl about Taliban capture
By Maya Srikrishnan | Los Angeles Times | Published: August 7, 2014
Army investigators wrapped up two days of questioning Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Thursday as part of an investigation into his 2009 disappearance from his base in Afghanistan, and his subsequent capture that led to nearly five years of Taliban captivity.
Bergdahl, 28, was questioned in San Antonio on Wednesday and Thursday about his disappearance. Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl handled the questioning both days as he sought to determine how Bergdahl came to be away from his post and be captured.
The Army investigating will take into consideration Bergdahl’s explanation, along with information and accounts from others, as officials try to determine whether the former prisoner broke any military laws.
Bergdahl was released May 31 by his Haqqani network captors in a controversial exchange that involved the release of five Taliban suspects from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Haqqani network has been behind some of the deadliest attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The deal drew criticism from some Republicans in Congress, who argued that it violated American policy against negotiating with terrorists. Some members of Bergdahl’s Army unit accused him of deserting his post before being captured by the Taliban.
Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that the interview was “very important” to his client and that being able to tell his side of things provided “intermediate closure,” though real closure is further down the road.
“This is the first opportunity he’s really had to describe in detail what happened and to describe it himself,” Fidell said. “I think the government has the information it needs to make an informed judgment.”
Fidell said that the atmosphere of the interview was “very relaxed” and “not confrontational or adversarial at all.”
“Maj. Dahl really did a good job of putting everyone at ease,” he said. “It was really masterful.”
Speaking to reporters after the interview, Fidell described his client as a “pretty tough hombre.”
“This is nothing compared to what he’s had to deal with,” he said. “He actually doesn’t dwell on every news story, every interview, every rumor, every falsehood, every vilification. He doesn’t sweat that.”
Bergdahl was assigned recently to an administrative job at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.