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Michael Hastings Dies in Suspicious Car 'Crash'.....
As the controversy over the prisoner swap grows, new information has emerged about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's time in Afghanistan. On Thursday, administration officials said Bergdahl's life could have been in danger if details of the prisoner swap had been leaked. While some in the media have speculated that Bergdahl became sympathetic to his captors, new reports reveal Bergdahl actually escaped from his captors on at least two occasions, once in the fall of 2011 and again sometime in 2012. In another development, the New York Times reveals a classified military report concluded Bergdahl most likely walked away from his Army outpost in June 2009 on his own free will, but it stops short of concluding that there is solid evidence that he intended to permanently desert. The report also revealed that Bergdahl had wandered away from assigned areas while in the Army at least twice before prior to the day he was captured, including once in Afghanistan. We speak to Matthew Farwell, a journalist and veteran of the Afghan war who has been following the Bergdahl story for years. He helped the late Michael Hastings write his 2012 Rolling Stone article, "America's Last Prisoner of War." Farwell came to know Bergdahl's parents after they attended the funeral of his brother who served and died in Afghanistan.


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Barack Obama said Thursday he would make "no apologies" for agreeing to a prisoner swap to free Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Guantánamo detainees.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. Right? That is par for the course. But I will repeat what I said two days ago. We have a basic principle. We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated, and we were deeply concerned about it. And we saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The rescue of Bergdahl has touched off a political firestorm. On Thursday, administration officials said Bergdahl's life could have been in danger if details of the prisoner swap had been leaked. Bergdahl had been held captive by the Haqqani network for five years. While some in the media have speculated that Bergdahl became sympathetic to his captors, new reports reveal Bergdahl actually escaped from his captors on at least two occasions. Once in the fall of 2011 and again sometime in 2012. According to The Daily Beast, in his first escape, Afghan sources said he avoided capture for three days and two nights before searchers finally found him. Exhausted and hiding in a shallow trench, he had dug with his own hands and covered with leaves.
AMY GOODMAN: In another development The New York Times reveals a classified military report concluded Bowe Bergdahl most likely walked away from his army outpost in June 2009 of his own free will, but it stopped short of concluding their is solid evidence he intended to permanently desert. The report also revealed Bergdahl had wandered away from assigned areas while in the Army at least twice before prior to the day he was captured, including once in Afghanistan. Well, we're joined right now by Matthew Farwell, he's a journalist and veteran of the Afghan War who has been following the Bergdahl story for years. He helped the late reporter Michael Hastings write his 2012 Rolling Stone piece headlined, "America's Last Prisoner of War". Matthew Farwell came to know Bergdahl's parents after they attended the funeral of his brother, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and died in an accident in Germany. Matthew Farwell, thank you so much for joining us.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Thank you for having me.
AMY GOODMAN: So why don't you talk about how you met Bowe Bergdahl's parents, Bob and Jani.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, I didn't really need them. I was up giving the eulogy for my brother and looked back in the back of the church and saw two people that I thought I recognized, and it was Bob and Jani Bergdahl.
AMY GOODMAN: Because you are from Idaho.
MATTHEW FARWELL: My parents are from Idaho, and I had been following the news so closely.
AMY GOODMAN: What year was this?
MATTHEW FARWELL: This was 2010, ma'am. February 3.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, how did you then come to know them?
MATTHEW FARWELL: After that I kept in touch with them a little bit because I thought that was a classy gesture. And then Michael and I did the story and I have stayed in touch.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In terms of the story with Michael, how did you decide to focus on the Bergdahl story and begin gathering the information, which is really the definitive work on the Bergdahl saga?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, you know, the FBI actually investigated how that came to be. So, I've got to keep some trade secrets on it.
AMY GOODMAN: No, explain for a moment. This is a side story, but Michael died in a fiery car crash and he had said at the time that he was being investigated by the FBI.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Yes, and in then a Freedom of Information Act request was done by a great journalist named Jason Schapiro. And it came back and he sent it up to me and I saw all of the redacted portions and said, holy cow, they're talking about me right here. And so, I put through a privacy act request, got it back and sure enough, they were looking into our "controversial" reporting on the story, which I think is a little unusual that the FBI is reading Rolling Stone on the job. But I give them credit.
AMY GOODMAN: So tell us about Bowe Bergdahl and what you learned.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, you know, Bowe is an interesting guy. And I'm very conflicted myself about how I feel about him and his case, but he was a young man, homeschooled, grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho. From all accounts, very intelligent. He did a lot of traveling prior to joining the Army.
AMY GOODMAN: His parents came from California?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Yes, ma'am. They came from California to Sun Valley I think the year before his older sister was born. They stayed there ever since. His dad was the Sun Valley UPS man for 30 years.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As your story in Rolling Stone details, early on he grew dissatisfied with being at home, being homeschooled and decided he wanted to pursue a life of adventure. Could you talk about that?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right. I mean, it seems he went up and worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, he traveled around the states on motorcycle, you know, just all the sorts of things that young men who are seeking something seem to do.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the French Foreign Legion too?
MATTHEW FARWELL: And his father said he tried to join the French Foreign Legion and was disqualified for eyesight.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what that is, the French Foreign Legion.
MATTHEW FARWELL: The French Foreign Legion is France's force of essentially foreign mercenaries who can come from any walk of life. A lot of them are hardened criminals or refugees currently from Eastern Europe. And once you join, you acquire a nom de guerre, you know, a fake name that you get for them.
AMY GOODMAN: Bowe was known around town in Hailey, Idaho. He worked at Zaney's Coffee House. He took up ballet and many had seen his performances.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Yes, ma'am.
AMY GOODMAN: So, how does he end up in U.S. military? How does he end up in Afghanistan?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, he did not just and up in U.S. military, he ended up in the U.S. Army parachute infantry. So, it's the military, about 90%, are support personnel, about 10% are the actual war fighters and trigger pullers. And so he was in that 10%. And it seems he just came back one day and said, hey, dad, I'm thinking about joining the Army. And as we said in the story, are you thinking about joining the Army or did you already sign up? Bowe admitted, well, yeah, I already signed up. So, it's a path a lot of young men take. I took it. Dropped out of the University of Virginia to join the infantry. And aside from that, I don't know.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Your article paints a not very flattering portrait of the unit that he was assigned to. One of the problems he had with the lack of discipline and lack of actual fighting capacity of the unit that he was in, in an outpost, really, in Afghanistan. Could you describe some of those problems?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, it seems from the video that Sean Smith of The Guardian shot after embedding with them for about a month, it seemed to me as a former infantryman who served in that exact area and knows that ground very, very well, that the unit wasn't operating with the same level of professionalism that's required to stay on your game there and keep your men alive and your men apparently from walking off.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to Sean Smith's a clip of Sean Smith's first film. He's The"Guardian reporter and he was embedded with Bowe's unit. And then because he had come to know this unit, the Bergdahl's said he could come to Idaho and he did a 12 minute piece about Bob Bergdahl. So, let me go to that piece right now, just a clip of Sean Smith, he is talking to, not to Bowe, but it's other soldiers who are talking here.
SOLDIER ONE: These people just want to be left alone.
SOLDIER TWO: Yeah, they got dicked with they got dicked with from the Russians for 17 years and then now we're here.
SOLDIER ONE: Same thing in Iraq when I was there. These people just want to be left alone. Have their crops, weddings, stuff like that, that's it man.
SOLDIER TWO: I'm glad they leave them alone.
SEAN SMITH: A few weeks later, Bowe Bergdahl, pictured in this photo, disappeared. The circumstances are unclear.
AMY GOODMAN: That, a report from The Guardian from Sean Smith, embedded with Bowe Bergdahl's unit. Now, according to your piece, the piece that you wrote with Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone, Matthew, Bowe sent a final e-mail to his parents on June 27, three days before he was captured in 2009. He wrote, "The future is too good to waste on lies... And life is way to short to care for the damnation of others as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I'm ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. Is is all revolting. I am sorry for everything here... These people need help, yet what they get is the conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live. The horror that is America is disgusting." He also saw a U.S. military vehicle roll over an Afghan baby. Matthew Farwell?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, I think that pretty much speaks for itself. The guy was clearly not happy where he was, not happy with the people he was serving with. And, you know, that area is a bad, bad area he walked off from. And it's just difficult for me to comprehend what must have been going through his mind when he made that decision, because I have been through there and I was scared out of my mind walking through that town and some of the guys that we're with, you know, intelligence units, always told us, hey, watch yourself when you are in Yaya Kheyl.
AMY GOODMAN: And let's be clear, he had packed up his stuff, sent it to his parents, and left his gun, his body armor, everything at the outpost and then he went and left.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right, from what we have heard, he only took a couple bottles of water, his books, and I'm trying to think what else a knife and his camera. And some of the reports that came through the WikiLeaks disclosures indicate that that is what the Afghan villagers saw when they saw him walking by himself. The Afghan villagers thought that was crazy.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You were in the same area of Afghanistan. What is your sense of the level of the kind of disillusionment that Bowe Bergdahl expressed here? How prevalent was that or is it an isolated situation or was there a sharp degree of disconnect between what the soldiers came there thinking they were going to do versus what they ended up doing?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, like I've said, the area was a very difficult area to operate in. You think, it's crushing poverty, zero percent female literacy literally, no toilets in the entire Providence except for American toilets. And so, a lot of the men in my platoon I was there two years prior to Bowe being there and a lot of the men in my platoon, and myself included, came back with tremendous cases of PTSD from what we were doing there because it was simply a difficult lace to fight a war in. And I think everyone from Alexander the Great up to the Soviets to us have learned that fact the hard way.
AMY GOODMAN: We're going to take a break and then come back to this discussion. We are talking with Matthew Farwell. He is a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, an Afghan War veteran. He helped the late Michael Hastings write the 2012 article on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl that's become the definitive piece on him called, "America's Last Prisoner of War." Stay with us.
[Break]
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Matthew Farwell. He served in the military in Afghanistan, like Bowe, two years before him. He met the Bergdahls when they came to his brother's funeral, who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and died in service in Germany. We are going to turn now to the media's focus on the Bergdahl family, particularly, his father Bob. I want to turn to comments made by MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on his show on Thursday, responding to the e-mail exchange between Bowe Bergdahl and his father, published in Michael Hastings' and Matthew Farwell's piece in Rolling Stone.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: If my son I've got a 26-year-old son and if my son is out on the wire and he is out there with fellow troops and he writes me up and says he hates America and he is thinking about deserting and he is thinking about leaving his post, I can tell you as a father that 26-year-old or 23 old son, I would say, Joey, you state the hell right there. I would call his commander I would say, get my son, he is not well, get him to a military base in Germany. I would not say, follow your conscience, son. I would not reach out to the voice of Jihad.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you respond to this, Matthew Farwell, if you could understand it? It is Joe Scarborough shouting at the MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Yeah, I am stunned by that. That's the first time I've seen that clip. And I was doing a lot of press yesterday about this, and I'm just astounded that all these people that didn't know a thing about this case for the past five years have all of a sudden become experts. No one cares until there's something to politicize and a soundbite to be made.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about the whole issue of the criticism that has been leveled against Bowe Bergdahl by his former fellow soldiers. As your article points out, the military, for years, insisted that no one talk about his case, and no one say anything public about this case. And now suddenly, you're getting this enormous outpouring of comments. A lot of it orchestrated by a Republican operative who has been producing some of these soldiers for the media.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Yeah, that was one of the biggest things that disturbed me so much about this whole story, and that really got me thinking it must be something, is it's unprecedented to have an entire brigade 3500 people have to sign a nondisclosure agreement about pretty much their entire tour in Afghanistan when they come back home. And so, these guys have bottled up this emotion.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that. Signing a confidentiality agreement to protect I mean, what was the reason given?
MATTHEW FARWELL: The official reasons was, if they said anything about Bowe Bergdahl, it could hurt him or possibly causing him to be further mistreated by the Taliban or the Haqqani network. But, to me, having served in the Army both as a trigger puller and then as a desk jockey at a four-star general's headquarters, it seemed like it was an exercise in covering the army's butt and trying to not make themselves and this war look as bad as it was.
AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the soldiers being told not to say anything, having to sign confidentiality agreement. What about the media?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, that is the other funny thing, is how complicit the media was with this. I have spoken with the White House official that was in charge of coordinating the media response and kind of ensuring that no one in the media spoke out or wrote about this. And frankly, he managed to snow a lot of the people in the media, and that is why I've got to give so many props to Michael Hastings, who I wish were sitting in this chair instead of me, and to Rolling Stone for have the guts to go after this story and to really tell it like it needed to be told.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to your media appearances. You were on CNN yesterday. I wanted to go to this clip. This is when you are being interviewed by a CNN host Carol Costello.
CAROL COSTELLO: Why did he is growing his beard out?
MATTHEW FARWELL: So that he would have some sympathy with the people that were holding his kid hostage.
CAROL COSTELLO: And this was not really an attempt to become a member of the Taliban, it was more to convince them that, you know, hey, maybe I can see things your way so that my son will be released, but he didn't really mean that? Is that the sort of thing that were talking about?
MATTHEW FARWELL: No, so that his son would be treated decently. I mean, remember, you're talking about a family that every night goes to sleep thinking their son might be tortured every day. Can you imagine what that must be like? I can't, and I've lost a brother in the war and I have fought in the war.
AMY GOODMAN: That is our guest today, Matthew Farwell, yesterday on CNN. Former soldier from Idaho who served in Afghanistan. At the end of the clip, the text on the screen read "Bergdahl's father accused of looking Muslim." Now, you don't see that because you're just on air, but that's what the lower third, as we call it, said. "Bergdahl's father accused of looking Muslim."
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right, right, which I'm not sure when that became a crime in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: In any of these cases, you just replace it for your own religion, right? Bergdahl's father accused of looking Jewish. Bergdahl's father accused of looking Catholic.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right, it seems pretty racist to me.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about the deleted e-mail of Bob Bergdahl a few days before his son was released. The media has made something of this. Just to say what that deleted tweet was that he said I think it was a day or two before his son was released.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right, I believe that tweet said something about still working to free all of the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay or something to that effect. And he's really taken a lot of criticism for it. But, look, you've got to think about this. Bob and Jani Bergdahl have lived every day of the past five years thinking it might be their only son's last day. I think we as Americans can probably cut them a little bit of slack.
AMY GOODMAN: The tweet said, "I am still working to free all Guantánamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen!" He said Arabic for amen. The tweet was subsequently deleted.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right, and so, at that point, their son was still in captivity. And Bob was doing everything he could think of to try and get his kid back. My own father, who is the most staunchly conservative person you'll ever meet and who is a wonderful guy, said he would shave his head and go skinny dip and then kiss the President's rear to get me back if I ever went missing. And so, that's a father's love for his son, and I think it is unfair to judge someone too harshly for that.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I'd like to turn if we can to some of the comments by some of the former soldiers that were stationed in Afghanistan with Bergdahl. I think we have the comment of the team leader, Evan Buetow, who was interviewed and who said that the Buetow said that intercepted communication days after his disappearance showed that Bergdahl actively sought to communicate with the Taliban.
EVAN BUETOW: The American is in Yaya Kheyl. He is 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. At that point, it was like, this is kind of snowballing out-of-control a little bit. There's a lot more to the story than just a soldier walking away.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, we also have reports from The Daily Beast that he tried to escape twice from the Taliban when he was in captivity. Your response to some of these statements now by some of his fellow soldiers?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, first of all, those comments that his team leader said, I can't verify or confirm or deny them. I can say that they were not reflected in the documents I reviewed that were released by WikiLeaks that said, and I read some of the same ones that seemed to have the same thing, that there is an American, he is looking for someone who speaks English, but there was no mentioned that he was looking to join the Taliban. These guys, they've been under enormous strain too for the past five years because they haven't been able to talk about what is probably one of the most of defining moments of their lives. Going to war as a young person. The men that I have spoken with from this unit, I mean, they took the fact that Bergdahl left and then the fact that they had to spend the rest of their deployment, they felt, looking for him they took it really hard. And that's entirely understandable. I'm not sure how I would have taken it if somebody in my unit had walked off. And so, I think they're, at this point, just unleashing as much of this pent-up frustration and emotion as they have. And they've earned every right to do it. I applaud it for them finally being able to come out and talk.
AMY GOODMAN: And there was suggestion of mismanagement of the team Buetow, who we just saw being the team leader. On Wednesday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina questioned the motive and timing of Bowe Bergdahl's release.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: You've gotta understand what is going on. They had a Rose Garden ceremony with the man's parents. I think the White House was looking at a twofer to announce in one week that we're going to withdraw from Afghanistan, ending the longest war in U.S. history, and oh, by the way, as commander-in-chief, I secured the last captive of that war, the only captive of that war. That was thought in their mind, I think, to be pretty good political story for that week. It blew up in their face. So the question is, was this release designed to enhance the announcement, to withdrawal from Afghanistan, getting the one guy back, or was it based on a circumstance that was so compelling, this was the moment and only this moment? That is what we need to investigate.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Senator Lindsey Graham. Your response?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, I've got a couple of things to say about this. The first thing is, they could have gotten him back two years ago for the exact same terms, this exact same deal. Congress dithered, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee dithered. And we wrote about that in the article. And second, I think it is pretty clear that the White House blundered this. I mean, they got Bowe back, which is an American soldier, regardless of anything else, he is our guy. We bring him back and then we deal with them as appropriate after that. We don't just leave him in the hands of the Taliban as the many people on Capitol Hill seem willing to do for the sake of political expediency.
AMY GOODMAN: Why two years ago did they not follow through with this? Secretary of State was Hillary Clinton at the time.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Secretary of State was Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense was Robert Gates. And it is my feeling that both of them who would legally have to sign off on the deal, did not want to do it. I believe I don't know Mrs. Clinton's motivations for that and I don't know Robert Gates' motivations for that, but I do know they also faced some pressure from really hard-line chicken hawks in Congress like Senator Saxby Chambliss that they encountered quite a bit of pushback.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And of course the atmosphere in Congress, to the Congress and the White House has only become more poisoned and even more combative in the period since then. I think The New York Times, in their editorial today, essentially said President Obama will face criticism from Congress for whatever he does. He would have faced criticism if he didn't succeed in bringing Bergdahl back and now he's facing criticism for bringing him back.
MATTHEW FARWELL: It's actually really interesting and disgusting in the same way how a lot of the same people that were loudly clamoring for his release when it appeared to be to their political benefit to do this are now loudly condemning it. And I read
AMY GOODMAN: Because then it was proposing President Obama.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right, then it was something to slam the White House with and now it is something, again, to slam the White House with.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator McCain has been most astounding because he has been on videotape, right, he's been on shows demanding Bowe Bergdahl's release and saying he would agree to a prisoner swap, and this was the same prisoner swap that was offered two years ago. And now criticizing that very thing.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: How did you get the e-mails, Matthew?
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, agin, that's part of the sources and methods of being an investigative journalist, and I would rather not talk about that.
AMY GOODMAN: But you stand by those e-mails
MATTHEW FARWELL: Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: that both sent to his family?MATTHEW FARWELL: Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: What was his family's response? You've talked to his family. In this piece by Sean Smith, the video piece following Bob Bergdahl, Bowe's dad, it is a stunning piece as he follows him into the woods where he makes a fire and says Bowe spent a lot of time here and he's listening to Dr. King give his speech against the war in Vietnam. You hear some of the call to prayer in the background. And his father was learning Pashto, as he showed in Boise, Idaho, when he addressed his son at what was called a news conference, so they didn't take questions, and said, "Bowe, I am your father."
MATTHEW FARWELL: Right, I mean, the family's response has been really interesting and compelling for me to follow because here are two people that are in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Sun Valley, Idaho, where the billionaires go to ski and hang out, living a pretty idyllic life. And then overnight, it all changes. They find out that their son is a prisoner. We wrote in the story that Jani Bergdahl heard her dog barking outside her dog named Rufus and saw two men come up wearing army uniforms. My own parents know what that is like. Her heart just sank. They said, well, it is not the worst news, but we can't tell you alone yet. Let's get you with your husband. They have been living that same sense of just heart wrenching anxiety ever since. I can't imagine the hell they've gone through.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Have you had a chance to talk with them since the news of the exchange broke?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I haven't, no. I've reached out to them, but I am respecting the privacy for now and I imagine they have a lot more important things to deal with than talking to me.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matthew Farwell, we want to thank you for being with us. It is an astounding piece that you did with Michael Hastings. I don't even know if he was being called a POW by the U.S. government at the time that you wrote this.
MATTHEW FARWELL: Well, technically, anyone is called a listed as missing/captured nowadays, so the designation POW is somewhat beaurocratically obsolete.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matthew [Farwell] is also a writer for Rolling Stone magazine and an Afghan War veteran. His family is from Idaho. He helped Michael Hastings write the 2012 article on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl headlined, "America's Last Prisoner of War". We'll link to it at democracynow.org. When we come back, we deal with the second controversy around Bowe Bergdahl's release, and that is the controversy of the prisoner swap. We'll speak with one of the lawyers for one of the five men who were just released to Qatar and we'll speak with a reporter who has been covering Guantánamo for years. Stay with us.
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By Michael Hastings
June 7, 2012 8:00 AM ET

In June 2012, fearless Rolling Stone contributing edtior Michael Hastings wrote the definitive first account of Bowe Bergdahl the young American soldier who was captured by the Taliban and became the last American prisoner of war. Hastings, the journalist who brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal in these pages, died in a car accident one year later. Bergdahl was freed this weekend. Hastings' incredible story is available in full here:
The mother and father sit at the kitchen table in their Idaho farmhouse, watching their son on YouTube plead for his life. The Taliban captured 26-year-old Bowe Bergdahl almost three years ago, on June 30th, 2009, and since that day, his parents, Jani and Bob, have had no contact with him. Like the rest of the world, their lone glimpses of Bowe the only American prisoner of war left in either Iraq or Afghanistan have come through a series of propaganda videos, filmed while he's been in captivity.
The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret
In the video they're watching now, Bowe doesn't look good. He's emaciated, maybe 30 pounds underweight, his face sunken, his eye sockets like caves. He's wearing a scraggly beard and he's talking funny, with some kind of foreign accent. Jani presses her left hand across her forehead, as if shielding herself from the images onscreen, her eyes filling with tears. Bob, unable to look away, hits play on the MacBook Pro for perhaps the 30th time. Over and over again, he watches as his only son, dressed in a ragged uniform, begs for someone to rescue him.
"Release me, please!" Bowe screams at the camera. "I'm begging you bring me home!"
My Decade of bin Laden, by Michael Hastings
Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl arrived in Afghanistan at the worst possible moment, just as President Barack Obama had ordered the first troop surge in the spring of 2009. Rather than withdraw from a disastrous and increasingly deadly war started by his predecessor, the new commander in chief had decided to escalate the conflict, tripling the number of troops to 100,000 and employing a counterinsurgency strategy that had yet to demonstrate any measurable success. To many on Obama's staff, who had been studying Lessons in Disaster, a book about America's failure in Vietnam, the catastrophe to come seemed almost preordained. "My God," his deputy national security adviser Tom Don*ilon said at the time. "What are we getting this guy into?" Over the next three years, 13,000 Americans would be killed or wounded in Afghanistan more than during the previous eight years of war under George W. Bush.
Bowe's own tour of duty in Afghanistan mirrored the larger American experience in the war marked by tragedy, confusion, misplaced idealism, deluded thinking and, perhaps, a moment of insanity. And it is with Bowe that the war will likely come to an end. On May 1st, in a surprise visit to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, President Obama announced that the United States will now pursue "a negotiated peace" with the Taliban. That peace is likely to include a prisoner swap or a "confidence-building measure," as U.S. officials working on the negotiations call it that could finally end the longest war in America's history. Bowe is the one prisoner the Taliban have to trade. "It could be a huge win if Obama could bring him home," says a senior administration official familiar with the negotiations. "Especially in an election year, if it's handled properly."
Bowe Robert Bergdahl was born in Sun Valley, Idaho, on March 28th, 1986 the same day as Lady Gaga, as his parents like to point out. Bob and Jani had moved to Idaho from California after college, building a small, two-*bedroom home on 40 acres of farmland not far from the small town of Hailey, deep in the mountains of Wood River Valley. His father worked construction, his mother odd jobs, living the life of ski bums, nearly off the grid. In 1983, the year Bowe's older sister Sky was born, his parents pulled in $7,000 and paid off the hospital bills for her birth with weekly $20 deposits.
Rather than put their kids in the local school system, Jani and Bob home-schooled Bowe and his sister. Devout Calvinists, they taught the children for six hours a day, instructing them in religious thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. "Ethics and morality would be constant verbiage in our conversations," his father recalls. "Bowe was definitely instilled with truth. He was very philosophical about perceiving ethics."
By the age of five, Bowe had also learned to shoot a .22 rifle and to ride horses. He developed a love for dirt bikes and immersed himself in boy's adventure tales anything that had to do with sailing and the ocean as well as cartoons. His favorite was Beetle Bailey, the comic-strip antihero who shambles through life in the Army as a permanent fuck-up.
By the time he was 16, Bowe had grown restless with his home-schooling and his parents. He began to explore the wider world, and became obsessed with learning how to fence. At a nearby fencing studio, which also offered ballet classes, he was recruited by a beautiful local girl to be a "lifter" the guy who holds the girl aloft in a ballet sequence. He soon moved in with the girl, whose family owned a tea shop in Ketchum, and made it his second home. The matriarch of the household, Kim Harrison, introduced him to Buddhism and Tarot cards. Bowe repaid his new family by doing construction work on their home. "To me, it was the normal path teenagers take," says Bob. "Like going to college you get into all this stuff."
At 20, Bowe went even farther afield in search of the kind of boy's adventure that had mesmerized him for years: He decided to join the French Foreign Legion, the infantry force made up of foreigners who want "to start a new life," as the legion's recruiting website puts it. He traveled to Paris and started to learn French, but his application was rejected. "He was absolutely devastated when the French Foreign Legion didn't take him," Bob says. "They just didn't want an American home-schooled in Idaho. They just said no way." Bowe pored over a survival and combat handbook written by a former member of the British special forces, and he gravitated toward the TV show Man vs. Wild, hosted by another legendary British soldier. "This became his role model," his father says. "He is Bear Grylls in his own mind."
Returning home from Europe, Bowe drifted for the next few years, working mainly as a barista at Zaney's, a local coffee shop in Hailey. But he kept dreaming of ways to pursue something bigger. In 2008, he spoke to a family friend who was working as a missionary in Uganda about going over to Africa to teach "self-defense techniques" to villagers being targeted by brutal militias like the Lord's Resistance Army. He and his father even fantasized about the creation of a special *operations unit to "kill these fucks" in Africa, imagining that "someone needed to run an op with some military people dressed up like U.N. people" to take out warlords in Darfur and Sudan. Before a spot in the friend's missionary program could open up, though, Bowe had decided on a different adventure.
One day that spring, Bowe called his mother. "Mom, I need to talk to you and Dad about something," he said. He stopped by the house that Saturday, when his father was home from work.
"I'm thinking about joining the Army," Bowe told his parents.
"You're thinking about joining?" his father asked. "Or you already signed on the dotted line?"
"Well, yeah," Bowe admitted.
Bowe's mother wished he had enlisted in a different branch, like the Navy, that wouldn't have put him on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. His father did what he always did with his son's dreams. "I just tried to be supportive," Bob says.
But what Bowe found in the Army, according to his parents, was a "deception" one that started from the moment he was recruited. Bowe had been enticed to join the Army, they say, with the promise that he would be going overseas to help Afghan villagers rebuild their lives and learn to defend themselves "the whole COIN thing," says Bob, citing the shorthand for America's strategy of counterinsurgency. "We were given a fictitious picture, an artificially created picture of what we were doing in Afghanistan."
After 16 weeks of training, Bowe graduated from infantry school in Fort Benning, Georgia, in the fall of 2008. While others in his training unit A Company 2-58 used their weekend passes to hit up strip clubs, Bowe hung out at Barnes & Noble and read books. He was already an expert shot from his days firing his .22 in the mountains of Idaho. When his parents attended the graduation, the drill sergeant told them, "Bowe was good to go when he got here." After completing the course, Bowe was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Fort Richardson, Alaska, not far from Anchorage. He arrived in October 2008.
At first, according to soldiers in his unit, Bowe seemed to embrace Army life. "He showed up, looked like a normal Joe," says former Specialist Jason Fry, who is now studying for a master's in theology. "When he first got to the unit, he was the leadership's pet. He read the Ranger Handbook like no other. Some people resented him for it." Bowe kept to himself, doing physical training on his own. "He never hung out with anyone, always in the background, never wanted to be in front of anything," says Fry. He surrounded himself with piles of books, including Three Cups of Tea, about a humanitarian crusade to educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as instructions on Zen meditation and an introductory ethics handbook with writings from Aristotle, Augustine, Kant and Hume.
{seven more pages}
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/new...z33t7zAlV6



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"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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description sounds eerily reminiscent of Lee Harvey Oswald...
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Our good buddy Ollie weighs in:

"Former Lt. Col. Oliver North continued his campaign against the Obama administration on Friday, accusing officials of needlessly trading five detainees for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, America's only prisoner of war in Afghanistan."All they ever wanted was money," the former Reagan aide said of the Taliban on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. "They never once mentioned in all of the dialogue that occurred trying to get him back earlier, that they wanted anything but money. So somehow, this administration concocted the release of five very senior, very brutal terrorists."
The contours of a possible deal for Bergdahl included the release of Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay for several years, and were reported as early as February 17.
North didn't provide any evidence to back up his assertion, but he claimed that a "senior person in our U.S. government" requested his assistance with the exchange because he had "a lot of experience in dealing with hostage situations."


I don't recall all those "hostage situations" Ollie mentions as being part of his duties, unless he's referring to the way that Ronald Reagan arranged for the Iranians to delay releasing their American hostages until after the election? (Ya probly shoudna brought that one back up, big guy)
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[While I'm rather shocked that his wife does NOT suspect foul play in Hastings' death, this story is still interesting in several ways.....]

"The Last Magazine": One Year After Death, Michael Hastings' Lost Novel Satirizes Corporate Media




June 17 marks the first anniversary of the death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings. Just 33 years old, Hastings died in a car crash at a time when he was considered of one of the country's most daring young reporters. His dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan unveiled the hidden realities of war. His 2010 Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sparked a political controversy after McChrystal and his aides were quoted making disparaging remarks about top administration officials. The article exposed longstanding government discord over the Afghan War's direction and led to McChrystal's firing. One year after his death, Hastings' reporting has made waves once again. In 2012, Hastings wrote a major investigation for Rolling Stone on the American prisoner of war, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. At the time, Hastings thought it was the most important story of his career. But it only recently earned widespread attention after Bergdahl's release for five Taliban members sparked a political firestorm. In his report, Hastings revealed Bergdahl was profoundly disillusioned with the Afghan War and may have walked away from his base as a result. With Bergdahl still silent as he recovers from five years in Taliban captivity, Hastings' article remains the definitive account of the young soldier's story. Today, another major work from Hastings is upon us: "The Last Magazine," a posthumous novel and scathing satire of the corporate news media based on Hastings' time at Newsweek. We are joined by Hastings' widow, Elise Jordan, who brought the book to life after coming across the manuscript following her husband's death.


AARON MATÉ: This week marks the first anniversary of the death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings. Just 33 years old, Hastings died in a car crash that ended the life of one of the country's most daring young reporters. His dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan unveiled the hidden realities of war. A 2010 Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sparked a political controversy after McChrystal and his aides were quoted making disparaging remarks about top administration officials. The article exposed longstanding government discord over the Afghan War's direction and led to McChrystal's firing.
AMY GOODMAN: One year after his death, Michael Hastings' reporting has made waves once again. In 2012, Hastings wrote a major piece for Rolling Stone on the American prisoner of war, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. At the time, Hastings thought it was the most important story of his career. In 2012, Hastings spoke to Russia Today about Bowe Bergdahl's case.
MICHAEL HASTINGS: I think this is the most significant and undercovered story about the war in Afghanistan from an American perspective. It's a story about the only prisoner of war who's left in these two wars. And under normal circumstances, he would be a cause célèbre everywhere. But because of the nature of why he was left and why he gotand how he got captured, he has been sort of buried. The Pentagon has intentionally sort of buried his case, for a variety of reasons.
OK, so, and as to what droveexcuse meas to what drove Bowe Bergdahl to leave, first you have to look athe was a 23-year-old kid who joined the Army, and he expected that he was going to go over to Afghanistan and help people and be involved in this nation building and essentially humanitarian activity. What he found when he got there was completely different. He thought that he had been sold a lie. He thought that he was not being treated with respect by the superior officers. There was a serious command problem within his unit in Afghanistan. There was a serious breakdown in command. One officer died, another got fired. Three of histhe people he respected were kicked out. And so, that created this sort of perfect storm. You have this sort of disillusionment happening, plus all these sort of horrible things he's seeing with war, that drove him to the decision to leave.
AARON MATÉ: The late Michael Hastings speaking in 2012. His article on Bowe Bergdahl only recently earned widespread attention after Bergdahl's release for five Taliban members sparked a political firestorm. In his report, Hastings was first to quote from emails sent by Bergdahl to his parents just before he went missing. In one email, Bergdahl wrote, quote, "I am sorry for everything here. ... These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live. The horror that is america is disgusting." His father responded, quote, "Obey your conscience." Today, with Bergdahl still silent as he recovers from five years in Taliban captivity, Hastings' article remains the definitive account of the young soldier's story.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, to mark the first anniversary of Michael Hastings' death, which is actually tomorrow, another major work from Michael Hastings is upon us. It's not an investigative report but a posthumous novel, a satire Hastings wrote of the corporate news media based on his time at Newsweek. The book is called The Last Magazine. Michael Hastings' widow, Elise Jordan, helped bring the book to life after coming across the manuscript following her husband's death. Elise Jordan is a journalist, political commentator. She served as a director for communications in the National Security Council from 2008 to '09 and was a speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice. In fact, you met Michael when you were a speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice?
ELISE JORDAN: Yes, and then we knew each other for a couple years, and then we started dating actually when we were both in Afghanistan. I was doing a story on female marines in Helmand, and he was doing the McChrystal story. So it was right beforeit was during the process he was interviewing and embedded with the team.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you met this young, crusading journalist, who never thought his piece on McChrystal would actually take him down.
ELISE JORDAN: No, I mean, he thought that it might cause waves for a day or two, but he didn'tyou know, the message of the piece, for him, was the story of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and of General McChrystal's really strict rules of engagement, whichcourageous restraint, which means the troops weren't allowed the same force protection measures and were very upset about these rules of engagement.
AMY GOODMAN: And he went on to write the Bowe Bergdahl story, thinking, "My god, if the McChrystal story had this response, Bowe Bergdahl is going to blow everyone out of the water."
ELISE JORDAN: Exactly, and I love how in the piece he predicted that it would become hugely politicized and that bringing Bowe Bergdahl home would start to signal the end of the Afghan War. He thought that there would be a firestorm immediately after publication two years ago. That firestorm came nowand, I think, is exactly the message of his book, The Last Magazine, in terms of what the establishment media seizes on as to make a story. The country didn't care, the media didn't care, overall, that this lone sergeant was in captivity for five years, but then, suddenly, when there's the opportunity to politicize it and to re-victimize someone who has been tortured for five years, everyone's all over it. And then, that's disgusting and something that would have really angered Michael.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is a rocking satire. So, Michael Hastings was an intern at Newsweek, and Michael M. Hastings is sort of the star of this book, this, quote, "novel." But talk about who we're talking about here, who the characters are. You've got Nishant Patel, the international editor; Sanders Berman, the managing editor; sort of thinly veiled Fareed Zakaria and, as well, Jon Meacham?
ELISE JORDAN: Well, they're composites. I would say that Michael was certainly influenced by his time at Newsweek, but he had a vivid imagination, and it's a talented work of fiction. That said, I think what he wanted to show was establishment media and howcheerleading the Iraq War for career advancement, and how quickly that cheerleading turned as soon as the war turned. Instead of looking at what they had chosen to support and trying to find a solution, you know, they wanted to forget as quickly as possible that they had ever been the one, you know, beating the drumbeat to war.
AARON MATÉ: So the first anniversary of his death is tomorrow. After he died, there was all sorts of theories. People were analyzing the scene of the wreckage. I remember there was a YouTube videos of the crash, people looking at the engine. Before he died, Hastings had sent an email to colleagues saying his reporting was under investigation. You've been very clear, though, to basically reject all these conspiracy theories.
ELISE JORDAN: Correct. Unfortunately, it was a tragic accident. I think that sometimes things are so horrible and tragic that we want to have an explanation that seems to make a little more sense, just thatjust then, you know, we lost one of the greatest journalists ever in American history, at least in my humble opinion. So
AMY GOODMAN: We actually had the person who helped work on that piece with Bowe Bergdahl, Matt Farwell, who said, though, on the issue of the FBI investigating, that Michael was so concerned about, in fact that they were.
ELISE JORDAN: Oh, they were.
AMY GOODMAN: They were investigating, right, Michael for his piece on Bowe Bergdahl, even though, in a very rare move, the FBI said they weren't conducting an investigation after Hastings' death.
ELISE JORDAN: Well, and Matt Farwell is a wonderful friend and collaborator, and I'm so happy that he and Michael were able to work together on that story, which wouldn't have happened without Matt, Michael always said. Such a well-researched story. Theyit really is just an example of the Obama administration's crackdown on journalism. They, Michael and Matt, were able to find out more information about what actually happened and Bowe's motivations than the U.S. government. And that apparently is scary and threatening and causes us to investigate Michael Hastings and Matt Farwell, which I really don't understand.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go back to Michael. He was on Democracy Now! in 2012. He said the Afghan War, like the invasion of Iraq, was based on a false premise.
MICHAEL HASTINGS: If WMDs were the big lie of the Iraq War, the safe haven myth is the big lie of the Afghan War. And what I mean by thatand this was true in Iraq, as wellbut 99 percent of the people, maybe even higher, honestly, the people we're fighting, whether it was Sunni insurgents in Iraq or Shiite militias in Iraq or in Afghanistan, the Taliban never actually posed a threat to the United States homeland. So the question one has to ask oneself is that if everything we're doing and everyone we're fighting is not actually a threat to the United Statescertainly not a direct threat, by any means, by any meansthen why are we expending so many resources, $120 billion a year, you know, with all the lives lost, to do it? And that'sand again, this is the big lie of counterinsurgency, which I know we've discussed on your show. To justify this tremendous outlay of resources, they have to say, "Oh, no, we're killing terrorists." But everybody knows that that's not true.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Hastings in 2012 talking about the Iraq and as well as Afghan War. He reported from Iraq as well as Afghanistan. Elise Jordan, this, again, the anniversary of his death. You had written a letter to The New York Times objecting to their obituary of your husband, of Michael.
ELISE JORDAN: Yes, it was factually inaccurate. It was shameful. I can't believe The New York Times has reported erroneously on my husband's reporting basically every time they decided to write anything about his reporting. But I really didn't think that they would go that low in someone's obituary. It was just tasteless.
AMY GOODMAN: What was wrong?
ELISE JORDAN: They cited the Pentagon report that "cleared" McChrystal and his aides of any wrongdoing.
AMY GOODMAN: For our radio listeners, you put little air quotes around "cleared."
ELISE JORDAN: Yeah, because the PentagonMichael did not participate in the investigation. He didn't believe that the role of the reporter was to turn over your notebooks to the government. But of course the Pentagon is going to clearit's alland if you actually read the report, it's pure speculation. "Oh, well, we don't remember exactly. We don't"it's so vague, and that's what upset me. You can'tif you print a paragraph about a report, the journalist should actually read the report and then have some context and decide, oh, well, maybe this report doesn't actually clear McChrystal and aides. So
AMY GOODMAN: So they did this in life, and they did this in death.
ELISE JORDAN: Yes, I think Michael's reporting was really threatening to the establishment, and I think that's what he really gets out in this book. When he was talking about what he called the lies of counterinsurgency, what he wanted to do with this book was to talk about how the lies are aided along by the news media and the complicity of so many journalists and so many status quo journalists in promoting this.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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How could Hastings allow himself to be teamed-up with a speech writer for Condoleeza Rice? She then offers a classic line out of the CIA anti-conspiracy memo that people need to make Hastings' death more than it was.
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Apparently Hastings was involved in this story. It's long, over 3 hours, but immensely watchable too. Watch in conjunction with Matt Taibbi's feature Rolling Stone, Gangster's Too Big to Jail

The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
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Fascinating. The basic point of the story is not surprising. But the entire story arc is just gripping.

He would do well to be a reader of Deep Politics Forum.
"We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

"We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl
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David Guyatt Wrote:Apparently Hastings was involved in this story. It's long, over 3 hours, but immensely watchable too. Watch in conjunction with Matt Taibbi's feature Rolling Stone, Gangster's Too Big to Jail


Thanks for posting this. Took me two days to listen to the whole thing. It nice to see some more come out about Michael Hastings. I never see anything about it anymore and there had to be way more to the story....
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