On supportbowe.org, we work hard to keep our focus on reporting the things that relate to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl rather than editorializing and putting our opinions into the mix. That being said, we have come upon a some information that causes us to ask a question. While we know that the answer to the question might be that things are being done as they are for Sergeant Bergdahl’s well-being, we still feel that it’s a a fair question to ask. Please kindly bear with us because sometimes we get so frustrated we have to preach in order to vent the steam that builds up.
The video we are posting a link to below is from the archives. It’s an interview that Lt. Col. Oliver North made right after news broke in December 2011 about Bowe’s escape attempt. This time while listening to it, something caught our ears that hadn’t before. Cue up to 2:14 in the audio feed to find the beginning of the part about Bowe. Then listen carefully at 3:35 where Lt. Col. North says “But the United States does pay for information leading to the safe release of Americans who are being held under these kinds of circumstances.”
We know that early on there was a reward of $25,000 offered for information that would reveal Bowe’s location. ABC News reports:
“The U.S. military also had a succession of efforts to locate the missing soldier and free him. Initially, a reward of $25,000 for location tips was offered to Afghans in the eastern portions of the region from which he disappeared. According to a source involved in the effort, a large number of calls flooded, and overwhelmed U.S. military efforts.”
But what about now? Is there currently a reward in place for information that leads to Bowe’s location and rescue? If there is, it certainly is a big secret. Of course, if it’s a secret, then there obviously wouldn’t be much publicity about the reward and that would pretty much defeat the purpose of the reward as an incentive. So it would seem that there probably isn’t a reward. Why on earth not?!!! We wonder if perhaps this should be a question that we are including in our letters to Congress. Further, perhaps we should tell our elected officials that the absence of a reward doesn’t speak well of the commitment that America has to getting Bowe back home. The only acceptable reason NOT to have a reward in place would be because having one would jeopardize Bowe’s safety. But apparently that wasn’t the case when the $25,000 reward was previously offered. And was the 25k reward discontinued because “a large number of calls flooded, and overwhelmed U.S. military efforts”? Could it be that they need to assign more people to answer phones? Forgive the sarcasm, but as we mentioned in the beginning of this post, we are frustrated. We write our elected officials and many of us get the same old party line blah blah blah as a response. It’s time for those who give us these assurances to put their money where their mouths are. As long it doesn’t put Sergeant Bergdahl’s life at risk, it’s high time to offer a reward for information leading to his location and rescue. But if we are counseled that offering a reward should be avoided for his safety, then some details of that reasoning certainly would need to be satisfactorily explained. We can only speculate, but perhaps one of the reasons that Sergeant Bergdahl remains alive is that his captors realize that keeping him alive benefits them because he is indeed important to America. Having a reward would demonstrate that the government is willing to publicly support Bowe beyond the same old song and dance that many of us get in response to our efforts to communicate with our elected officials. In America, we measure commitment by what is being done.
The fact is, the United States is no stranger to offering rewards for information. Here are some rewards that the US is currently offering:
In April 2012, the US offered a $10 million dollar reward for reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The US State Department also announced a $2 million reward for Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Saeed’s brother-in-law and the group’s second-in-command. The thing is, the US knows where Saeed is because he operates openly in Pakistan, giving public speeches and appearing on TV talk shows. Sounds like the US is trying to send a message. Why not send a message about Bowe??? SOURCE
In March of this year, the FBI offered an up to $1 million dollar reward for information leading to the safe recovery and return of retired FBI Special Agent Robert Levinson. Levinson, who retired from the FBI in 1998 after 22 years of service, was working as a private investigator when he traveled to Kish Island, Iran on March 8, 2007. He has not been seen or heard from publicly since he disappeared the following day. In 2010, a video showing him in captivity was sent to the Levinson family by his captors. SOURCE
The Rewards for Justice program has a whole list of terrorists which the U.S. government is willing to offer rewards ranging from $1 million to $25 million for actionable information. SOURCE
And the history of the US offering rewards for information is a long one. In 2004 the US State Department offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the release of Americans being held in Colombia by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). SOURCE
And in 2000 the US State Department offered $25,000 for the return of a lost laptop computer. SOURCE
WHAT!!! Why not one for Bowe???????
We have heard in the news that by the end of 2014, the number of United States Forces will be drawn down to 20,000. (source) A very important thing to remember is that it was insurgents belonging to the Haqqani network that took Sergeant Bergdahl captive and are believed to be currently holding him prisoner. The Haqqani insurgents could number as many as 15,000. They are hardcore fighters, many cut their teeth on Soviet bones. They are criminals and smugglers. They move back and forth across the Afghan-Pakistan border, attacking allied forces and spying for Pakistan. The Haqqani network is one of the most capable group of insurgents that America is opposing in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. The U.S. exerts little influence over the Haqqani network now and will exert even less when U.S. forces are pared down to the proposed 20,000 troops. The release of Sergeant Bergdahl becomes even more urgent with the draw down. An article about the Haqqani network holds a somewhat chilling statement from a Pakistani official. Here’s the quote, but the entire short article is a worthwhile read. “A Pakistani official told The Washington Examiner that his government sees little incentive in warring with the Haqqanis, especially since the U.S. has been ambivalent in calling the group terrorists. “The Haqqanis will be with us forever,” he said. “And in two years the U.S. will be gone for the most part.”
Most will surely agree that it’s well past time to bring Bowe Bergdahl home. The time is now, this young American’s life depends on what we do both as individuals and as a nation.
The following is taken from various news sources over the past week:
11 March 2012: Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN)
The five Taleban who have been mentioned for possible release (reporting on today’s visit can be seen here and here) are: Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former governor of Herat and one of the founding fathers of the Taleban movement, Fazl Mazlum, former head of the Army, Nurullah Nuri, former head of the northern zone, Abdul Haq Wasiq, former deputy head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and Abdul Nabi Omari, a minor figure and former judge who appears to be on the list because he has links to the Haqqanis who are holding the captured US Soldier Bowe Bergdahl, whose exchange may be part of any deal. READ MORE
13 March 2012: Foreign Policy
The pending deal to move senior Taliban figures from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Qatar is part of a trade for the return of a Western prisoner, according to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
The Obama administration’s plan to move five top Taliban officials to live under house arrest in Qatar has been extensively reported but never openly discussed by administration officials. And until Feinstein confirmed it to The Cable, the fact that the crux of the deal is a swap for a Westerner had never been publicly disclosed.
“That’s the framework of the exchange. But it’s presented as a confidence-building measure,” Feinstein said. “We are giving up people who killed a lot of people, people who were head of major efforts of the Taliban.”
Feinstein said the deal involved the trade of one Westerner for the five Taliban leaders. She also confirmed the name of the Westerner in question, but The Cable has agreed to withhold that name at the request of U.S. officials out of concern for his safety.
Under the deal, the United States would reportedly place the Taliban officials under the responsibility of the Qatari government, where they would ostensibly remain under some degree of supervision and imprisonment. According to reports, the prisoners being considered for transfer include Mullah Khair Khowa, a former interior minister; Noorullah Noori, a former governor in northern Afghanistan; and former army commander Mullah Fazl Akhund. READ MORE
15 March 2012: Akron.com (The West Side Leader and South Side News Leader)
• During the communications from the public portion of the evening, resident Mike Hoofman asked Council to recognize U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is currently an Afghanistan conflict prisoner of war.
“I’m a member of Rolling Thunder, a veteran of the Marines and mostly a concerned citizen,” Hoofman said. “We have one prisoner of war in Afghanistan and his birthday is March 28. He’ll be 26. I’m asking the city to place a happy birthday announcement and indication to show support for him. We’ve made up yard signs and I’d like permission to install one at Williams Peace Park.”
“We’ll make sure a sign gets put up there,” said Mayor Mike Zita. SOURCE
16 March 2012: KUOW.org Northwest News
The deteriorating situation in Afghanistan may hinder the most likely avenue for bringing a captured Northwest soldier home safely. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, is the only known U.S. soldier in Taliban captivity.
Peace talks between the U.S. and a faction of the Taliban were already on unstable footing. Now the Taliban says it’s suspending contact with U.S. officials. READ MORE
16 March 2012: Idaho Mountain Express
Planned negotiations between U.S. and Taliban leaders aimed at a prisoner swap that could free captured soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl took an apparent step backward this week.
For several months, numerous media sources have reported that top Taliban leaders in Afghanistan planned to open a “political office” in Qatar, a wealthy Persian Gulf emirate, to begin negotiations with the United States. The Associated Press reported in August that the negotiations included plans for the possible swap of Bergdahl for Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
However, The Washington Post reported Thursday that Taliban leaders were “suspending preliminary peace talks with the United States because of Washington’s ‘alternating and ever-changing position,’ and accused U.S. officials of reneging on promises to take meaningful steps toward a prisoner swap.” READ MORE
Don’t Forget to Join the Day of Action and Prayer on 28 March 2012 in Honor of Bowe’s 26th Birthday. Invite your friends too! This is an “anywhere you are” event so it’s easy for everyone to participate in.
File this one under little things a person can do that will make a big difference.
Business cards such as those mentioned in this article (see image below) are useful for telling others about Sergeant Bergdahl. This card, which has printing on both the front and back, is from Vistaprint. Vistaprint was running a promo when these were ordered: 250 free with free shipping ($5.34 shipping waived because of the promo) or 500 for $3.99 plus $6.83 shipping. Vistaprint has many items that it offers for FREE plus shipping. They can supply a wide variety things from business cards to car magnets, banners, stickers, customized pens & customized t-shirts. Keep and eye on the website and you’ll find that just about everything goes on sale at one time or another. Often coupons for discounts on a future purchase are included in their shipments.
Its BOWE TUESDAY #134 – can you believe it? Another week has passed and our young soldier, Sgt Bowe Robert Bergdahl, still remains a prisoner of war. NINE HUNDRED and THIRTY-EIGHT days. –> 938 <– Please show your support for Sergeant Bergdahl on Facebook and twitter today. Help to raise awareness about the horrible situation this American is suffering.
MORE about BOWE TUESDAY for Facebook
On twitter use hash tags: #bowetuesday #Bowe #Bergdahl #supportbowe #POW
Please don’t forget that we need YOU to Support Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl by joining us for a Week of Action & Prayer which runs from Tuesday, January 24th through Tuesday the 31st.
We need YOUR to help to make this event a success.
Tell your friends to Sign up on Facebook. We can do this! Please share this event with all who should know Bowe’s story – which is everyone.
MORE about how you can help.
The January 2012 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.
Sergeant Bowe R. Bergdahl, United States Army (dob 28 March 1986) of Hailey, Idaho, was captured in Afghanistan in June of 2009 by a Taliban allied Afghan insurgent group called the Haqqani Network. As of 30 January, he will have been held captive by the enemies of America for 2 years and 7 months.
In remembrance of the June 2009 capture of Bowe Bergdahl, please contact your United States Congressional Delegation and tell them that obtaining the release of Sgt Bergdahl must be a priority. Remind them that America must not forget Bowe and that you expect the United States government to work tirelessly to bring him home.
Helpful resources you can use for the Week of Action and Prayer:
The family of Idaho Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has released a statement after reports of the Taliban trying to establish peace negotiations.
“We are optimistic about the possibility of diplomatic discussions between Taliban officials and government officials from other nations, including the United States,” the family states. “Our only son, Bowe Bergdahl, has been held captive for two and a half years. We hope he will be released as soon as possible.”
Read More at KBOI2.com: Bergdahl family releases statement on Taliban peace discussion
Read More at The Washington Post:Captured soldier’s family ‘optimistic’ about possible deal to open Taliban office in Qatar