Bowe Bergdahl has made headlines nationwide as the American prisoner in Afghanistan recently traded for five Taliban members after five years of captivity. Accusations that he had plans to desert, or was attempting to desert when he was captured, have made the trade controversial, even resulting in death threats to his father, who recently spoke at the White House to thank those who helped bring his son home. Bob Bergdahl spoke in Pashto to his son, who he noted is struggling to speak English at present, and who has not yet chosen to be reunited with his family — something officials say can be normal for returning prisoners of war.
The controversy surrounding his capture has led some, such as Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General under the Bush administration, to demand that Bergdahl be court-martialed. “We know what he did. You can’t wait to try a case until you know absolutely everything about everything,” said Mukasey in a Fox News interview. Others, like National Security Adviser Susan Rice, take a far more cautious and lenient view. “This is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about. He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty. He is now being tried in the court of public opinion after having gone through an enormously traumatic five years of captivity,” said Rice, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Now, information provided by a close friend of Bergdahl’s, Kim Harrison, on his mental state before, during, and after his entrance into the military has shed new light on the issue. Prior to joining the army, Bergdahl was in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he was discharged for psychological reasons, according to The Washington Post. His friend Harrison, to whom he sent personal items to just prior to his disappearance, and whom he had chosen to receive his remains if he should die, said she was releasing the journal and computer files to The Washington Post because she was worried about how Bergdahl was being viewed, as a scheming deserter rather than how she felt he actually was. “He is the perfect example of a person who should not have gone” to war, Harrison told The Post. “The only person worse would be someone with a low IQ. In my mind, they didn’t care,” she said.
Harrison and other close friends spoke on Bergdahl’s discharge from the Coast Guard , saying that while he claimed he faked a psychological disorder to get out, they did not believe it. “I said ‘You don’t fake a psychological discharge, you have to become unfit.’ I told him that,” she said. “The reality was it wasn’t okay. I saw it in the letters, the way the writing was changing, the anger,” said Harrison. Later was accepted into the Army, she’d said, “‘Why and how did you even get in? How did they let you?’ I was furious.”