Monday, July 20, 2009

Hailey Soldier Bowe Bergdahl Family Statement

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 3:51 PM

The Times-News has a statement from relatives of a U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan who appears in a recent video credited to the Taliban:

“We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and concern toward Bowe and our family. As you know this situation is extremely difficult for everyone involved. We’d like to remind all of you that our sole focus is seeing our beloved son, Bowe, safely back home. Please continue to keep Bowe in your thoughts and prayers, and we’d ask for your continued respect of our need for privacy at this difficult time."

The BBC broke the story on July 2 that two days prior a U.S. soldier had been captured by Taliban-related militants in eastern Afghanistan. That soldier turned out to be Bowe Bergdahl, the Pentagon confirmed after the video was released on Saturday.

You can watch the Taliban-credited video at BBC News, though it does not work on my browser.

The national media has set up shop at Zaney's River Street coffee shop in Hailey, where Bergdahl once worked, but most of Bergdahl's friends and family are keeping quiet, honoring a request from the military. AP reporter John Miller visited Hailey and found out that Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter has also known about Bergdahl and helped keep his name out of the news:

Only after Saturday's Internet airing of a 28-minute video in which Bergdahl is shown captive and says he fears never going home again did Pentagon officials finally release his name. Some of Bergdahl's friends and acquaintances are also slowly opening up, too, with permission from his father.

In an era where captives are valuable commodities in transactions of terror, secrecy is no accident. The New York Times had asked other media not to publicize the capture of reporter David Rohde. The Times reporter escaped in July after being held seven months by the Taliban.

Just as the Times didn't report on Rohde before his escape, the Pentagon decided the best for Bergdahl was as little news as possible.

"The Department of Defense has always thought throughout this whole situation that we were going to do whatever we could possibly do with the safety of this soldier in mind," said Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, an Idaho National Guard spokesman. "Efforts to secure his return are the primary consideration."

In the video posted Saturday, Bergdahl confirms his name and hometown. The Pentagon confirmed his identity Sunday, nearly three weeks after he disappeared.

On July 2, two U.S. officials conceded a soldier had "just walked off" his base near the border with Pakistan with three Afghans after his shift, but wouldn't release details. Four days later, the Taliban claimed "a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison" and was captured by mujahedeen.

Two questions: (1) Should the media air these videos at all? and (2) Where is the video archived anyway?

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