Bergdahl emails express discontent

June 7, 2012 

Afghan Soldier Captured

Bowe Bergdahl


WASHINGTON — The messages that Hailey soldier Bowe Bergdahl reportedly sent to his parents before he was captured by the Taliban three years ago suggest he was disillusioned and considering deserting.

Bergdahl told his parents that he was “ashamed to even be American” and disgusted with the U.S. mission in Afghani­stan and with the Army, according to emails quoted in Rolling Stone magazine.

Bergdahl, an Army sergeant who is now 26, was taken prisoner on June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan.

The military has never detailed circumstances of his disappearance or capture, and he is not classified as a deserter. He was initially listed as “duty status unknown” and is now considered “missing-captured.” He is the only U.S. prisoner of war from the Afghanistan conflict, and U.S. officials say they are trying to free him.

The White House declined comment on the emails or Bergdahl’s possible motivation for leaving his base in eastern Afghanistan.

Bergdahl is the subject of a proposed prisoner swap in which he would be traded for five Taliban adherents imprisoned by the United States at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Taliban have walked away from the deal and larger negotiations with the U.S., but the Obama administration is still pushing a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan.

The seven-page article on Bergdahl appears in the June 21 issue of Rolling Stone magazine but has been published online. It was written by Michael Hastings, who wrote a controversial 2010 article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal that led to the general’s ouster.

The Rolling Stone article quotes soldiers and associates saying that Bergdahl talked about walking to Pakistan if his deployment was “lame.” Shortly before his disappearance, he asked whether he should take his weapon if he left the base.

Friends and other soldiers describe a survivalist mentality, and Bergdahl’s father, Bob, told the magazine that his son was “living in a novel.”

The emails were provided to the magazine by Berg­dahl’s family, which has gone public with its discontent with U.S. efforts to free him. There is no way to authenticate the emails.

Some of Bergdahl’s words read like a suicide note: “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

He mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books.

In the final email the family received, on June 27, 2009, Bergdahl expressed extreme disillusionment with the war.

“The future is too good to waste on lies,” he wrote. “And life is way too 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 am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting.”

Bergdahl’s father said his son tried to join the French Foreign Legion at age 20 but was not accepted.

He enlisted in the Army in 2008 and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson, Alaska. He deployed to Afghanistan as a machine gunner in May 2009.

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