In a rare interview just published by the Idaho Mountain Express, the Bergdahl family sent a message out to all who are working to support Bowe. Out of concerns for their son’s safety, and on advice of the military and United States government, the Bergdahls have spoken little publicly about their son during his nearly three years of captivity.
From the article By GREGORY FOLEY, Express Staff Writer:
Nearly three years after finding out their son Bowe was taken hostage by enemy forces while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Hailey-area residents Bob and Jani Bergdahl are breaking a long silence, hopeful that renewed awareness about Bowe’s plight will lead to his release and return home to Idaho.
In an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express, the Bergdahls said they believe Bowe is alive and could be brought home through aggressive negotiations or, possibly, a prisoner exchange. They said they are now vocally supporting grassroots efforts to bring their son’s case into the spotlight, in part because of mounting frustration over the inability of the U.S. government to negotiate Bowe’s release.
“There is a dynamic here that has changed,” Bob Bergdahl said. “Everybody is frustrated with how slowly the process has evolved.”
Pursuant to that frustration, Mr. Bergdahl said he and his wife now want to publicly thank activists across the globe who have initiated petitions and awareness campaigns to recognize Bowe and plead for his safe return to the United States. And, Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl said, they are advocating that the Pentagon and the White House consider swapping one or more U.S. prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for their son.
“I’m pushing it hard,” Mr. Bergdahl said. “We started out by trying to encourage the Taliban to take care of our son. … Now, we’re worried that the government isn’t concerned enough to put him on the (negotiating) table.”
Mr. Bergdahl said he and his wife want to see a peaceful resolution to the standoff, preferably one that doesn’t put other American soldiers in harm’s way in order to secure Bowe’s freedom.
“We don’t want to see Americans killed,” he said.
Mrs. Bergdahl said the family has reasons to believe that Bowe is still in captivity in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
“We know he is doing as well as he can be,” she said.
Mr. Bergdahl said he believes a deal to swap Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo for Bowe would be a “win-win” for the United States—his son could be returned safely to Idaho and the government could foster goodwill with the Afghan people. The ongoing imprisonment of suspected war criminals at the Cuba compound and reports of mistreatment of prisoners there encourages anti-American sentiment and might be helping some organizations to recruit soldiers to fight against the United States, he said.
Earlier this year, talks between the Afghan Taliban and the United States in Qatar failed, as the Taliban leadership reportedly refused to accept the U.S. demand of a cease-fire before swapping prisoners. Sources in the Taliban reportedly said the group had set up an office in Qatar and wanted to negotiate for five top commanders held at Guantanamo since 2002.
Mr. Bergdahl said he and his wife have worried extensively that Bowe has been in danger of being harmed as a pawn of the ongoing war.
“Bowe’s been (living) under the drone program the entire time,” he said, referring to U.S. military initiatives to use unmanned drones to bomb enemy posts. “It scares the hell out of us.” READ MORE
In light of this new information, it is all the more urgent that all Bowe Supporters work to contact the following on Bowe’s behalf: their Members of Congress, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the White House. We all need to step up our efforts to tell others Bowe’s story and we must ask others to contact those who represent them in government. Our elected officials need to know that Bowe’s supporters mean business and that “we’re doing everything that we can” is NOT an acceptable answer. Those who have the power to bring Bowe home clearly aren’t doing enough or Bowe would be home by now. And if they’re really doing everything they can, then they need to figure out how to do something more post haste. Time is of the essence; December 2014, an important goal date in the United States’ Afghanistan exit strategy, will be upon us in no time.
Find out HOW to contact your Members of Congress.
Dear Bowe Supporters,
We cannot tell you how important it is at this time to make those in America aware of the fact that Bowe is still being held as a prisoner of war. We have to reach out to bring more people into the circle of those who are fighting to bring Bowe home. The more people who are willing to demand of our government that Bowe’s release be a top level priority, the more pressure we can put on those who make the decisions that will lead to Bowe’s safe return.
There are several current events that add even more to the need to act with urgency to rescue Bowe from his captors. Due to the recent Koran burinings. the mood in Afghanistan is not good. US ambassador Ryan Crocker said, “the situation is tense.” One observation further describes the situation “The anger of Afghans is evident, whether it be over the sense of religious insult or the sheer frustration with a war that has gone on too long and yielded too little.” What remains to be seen is how this situation will alter the strategic plans implemented or the tactics which will be used to achieve America’s goals in Afghanistan. According to a report in the New York times: “The United States now has what one senior American official said was ‘almost no margin of error’ in trying to achieve even limited goals in Afghanistan after a series of crises that have stirred resentment.” We know that anything that affects the mission in Afghanistan will also have an affect on America’s influence in Pakistan which will in turn affect efforts to prevail over the Haqqani network. Since the Haqqani network has been determined to be the group that is holding Bowe captive, the recent developments in Afghanistan are of even more concern to us who are working to make haste efforts to obtain Bowe’s release.
Of further concern, the AP and Washington Post reported that Ambassador Crocker sent a top-secret cable to Washington last month warning that the existence of “enemy havens” in Pakistan was placing the success of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan in jeopardy. The report says the message was so secretive that it was sent through CIA channels rather than the usual ones in the State Department.
The Washington Post says the contents of the cable could become “ammunition” for some senior military officials who favor more aggressive action by the U.S. against the Haqqani havens in Pakistan. The Post also goes on to say “the cable written by Ambassador Ryan C Crocker last month ‘amounted to an admission that years of US efforts to curtail insurgent activity in Pakistan by the lethal Haqqani network, a key Taliban ally, were failing.”
Something that adds to the doubts that the Haqqani network is being deterred from pursuing its militant goals is a recent report that it has just has issued guidelines to its insurgents in a newly published book called the ‘Nizami Darsona’, which is comprised of more than 160 pages and written by unknown Abu Umar Asaltfi in Pashto language.
‘Nizami Darsona’ says that it aims at helping active members of the Taliban in organizing themselves so that they may effectively increase their activities against foreign forces active in war-torn Afghanistan.
The book, in its initial chapters, expands on the need of a holy war and its types through Quranic verses and through the prophet Mohammed’s sayings.
On a positve note, according to a statement issued by International Security Assistance Force, a Haqqani leader was captured by Afghan and coalition security forces during an operation on Monday at eastern Afghanistan. The statement further added, the operation was conducted in Nadir Shah Kot district, Khost province. The leader managed an insurgent network and directed operations against Afghan civilians and security forces in the district.
All of these events are inspring much debate on the internet on the various news information sites as well as in discussion forums. This gives us all an opprtunity to add to these discussions by posting comments that remind people that no matter what happens in Afghanistan, obtaining Bowe’s release must absolutely be a top level priority. Without a doubt, your comments will be read by people who don’t even know that Bowe is a prisoner of war.
Please join us today, BOWE TUESDAY, to remind America about Bowe. Please feature a picture of him on your Facebook profile. If you get through to even one more person who will actively stand up for Bowe, your effort would be more than worthwhile. Just 24 hours, that’s all we ask that you show Bowe’s image on your profile. That is just a drop of time compared to the 23,352 hours that he has been held captive. Twitter users, please fire out some tweets throughout the day to get Bowe’s name in the feed. #Bowe #Bergdahl #bowetuesday #POW #supportbowe. Some Bowe Supporters are starting a movement to contact their Members of Congress each Tuesday to remind them that it has been another week.
We have to ramp up our efforts to bring Bowe’s story into the spotlight. Please be part of this, we need your voice, Bowe needs your voice. Thank You all.
Follow HERE for More Info about BOWE TUESDAY
Find us HERE on FACEBOOK
In case you missed it, below is a recent post from the Facebook page Waiting and Advocating for Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, US Army – POW. The post explains about the January 24th through the 31st Week of Action & Prayer that’s been organized for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
We know that every person who reads this post would like nothing more than to have 2012 be the year that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is safely returned home to his family. Just visualizing this can stir one’s heart with profound emotion. Each and every one of you who has stepped up to support Bowe is doing something important, something that will have an impact beyond all of our expectations. Believe this friends, powerful things happen when people come together with compassionate hearts to give to others. We want to set the tone to 2012 by hitting the ground running in our efforts to support Bowe. From Jan 24th through the 31st, we’re joining together via Facebook for a Week of Action & Prayer for Bowe. This Week of Action and Prayer is being coordinated with the Congressional calendars for both the House and the Senate so it will occur while both are in session. America’s politicians MUST know that America will not forget Bowe Bergdahl. These politicians need to understand that we expect that they will help to further Bowe’s cause, no exceptions- not even in a year when they’re busy campaigning. You’ll find that this is an easy event to participate in and EVERYONE can help in some way. Here are some things you can do:
1) Show your support simply by joining the event- just click the “JOIN” button on the upper right hand side of the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/256605531054788/
2) Raise Awareness: ask your friends to participate by using the “INVITE FRIENDS” button that will appear in the upper right hand portion of the event page after you join the event. It’s possible you might very well introduce someone to Bowe for the first time just by doing this one small thing.
3) During the event week, use an image that mentions or features Bowe as your Facebook profile picture 4) Go to supportbowe.org and leave a message of support for Bowe & his family in the Guest Book @http://supportbowe.org/guest-book-bowe-bergdahl/
5) Pray on your own, pray in a group, post your prayers on the event page (“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”); Visualize Bowe’s rescue. Claim victory over the enemy that’s holding Bowe prisoner. Affirm your belief in miracles.
6) Tell your friends about the event, even if they aren’t Facebook users. The folks that aren’t on Facebook can also pray, write letters, & tell their friends about Bowe. 7) Contact your elected officials and tell them that your expectation of them is that they make certain that absolutely everything possible is being done to bring Bowe home.(They make good money to work for us and they need to understand that we expect them to earn it!) We have created a page that offers some guidence on how to contact our elected officials. Find links here: http://supportbowe.org/2012/01/08/event-bowe-bergdahl-action-prayer/
The more people that we can gather together to support Bowe, the more our voices will be heard. The more people we get involved early in this year, the more influence we can have as the year progresses. People are sharing some really terrific ideas with us every week on how we can help Bowe but the success of many of these ideas depends on one thing: getting a large number people together who are on fire to help Bowe and his family and who are willing to do what they can to raise awareness. This is truly a grassroots effort and every single person has something valuable to offer in this action to support Bowe. This effort is nothing without each and every one of you.
Thank You again for standing strong together for Bowe. You are making a difference!
With the recent publication of the Reuters report Exclusive: Secret U.S., Taliban talks reach turning point, many have wondered if Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl might be included in the following potential transaction:
As part of the accelerating, high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody.
It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with the government headed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
We have yet to see any indication from American sources that Sergeant Bergdahl’s return would be included in a Taliban “confidence building measure”, or if these “secret talks” are, in actuality, occurring. If the Reuters article is accurate, it would be worthwhile to take note of the following excerpts regarding the Haqqani network, the militant group which is holding Sergeant Bergdahl captive:
Bold attacks from the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network have undermined the narrative of improving security and raised questions about how well an inexperienced Afghan military will be able to cope when foreign troops go home.
In that uncertain context, officials say that initial contacts with insurgent representatives since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly embraced a diplomatic strategy in a February 18, 2011, speech have centered on establishing whether the Taliban was open to reconciliation, despite its pledge to continue its ‘sacred jihad’ against NATO and U.S. soldiers.
U.S. officials have met with Tayeb Agha, who was a secretary to Mullah Omar, and they have held one meeting arranged by Pakistan with Ibrahim Haqqani, a brother of the Haqqani network’s founder. They have not shut the door to further meetings with the Haqqani group, which is blamed for a brazen attack this fall on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and which U.S. officials link closely to Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
It also should be noted that on the same day that Reuters published the above article, the article No secret talks with U.S.: senior Taliban commander was also published. The following quote reminds us that the actuality of any negotiations between the United States and the Taliban remains speculation until confirmed by named US officials.
A senior Afghan Taliban commander on Monday denied that the group held secret talks with U.S. officials which had reached a turning point.
“How can talks be at a critical point when they have not even started,” the commander told Reuters by telephone in response to comments by U.S. officials who say talks have been taking place for 10 months and had reached a turning point.
Whatever diplomatic efforts might be occurring with the Taliban, we can only hope that any negotiations would lead to the swift return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to America. On a side note, the recent discussion of potential negotiations brought to mind the following editorial cartoon from last year. Δ