Our View: A new hope for Bowe Bergdahl’s release

February 19, 2014 

Bowe Bergdahl

We know from the ups and downs of the past four and a half years that anecdotal evidence and positive signals regarding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release can circle back to the path of heartbreak and frustration for his Idaho family and the nation.

The news Tuesday that President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department were attempting to update or “refresh” some kind of prisoner swap marks an important dot on the continuum that could lead to Bergdahl’s ultimate release. For this we are optimistic and grateful.

Other dots include actions both in the U.S. and in the Afghanistan war zone, where Bergdahl was taken prisoner in 2009.

A film purportedly depicting Bergdahl a month ago seemed to be saying, yes, we still have him and here he is, let’s make a deal. Bergdahl’s Hailey family and supporters have worked tirelessly to get his situation and plight before the American people in a number of creative ways, bracelets and billboards to name a few. He is certainly not anonymous, and both sides know there is something to be gained by continuing to talk.

Going back just a bit further in time to last summer, a prisoner swap deal with affiliates of his Taliban captors in Afghanistan seemed to be getting traction until — as has often been the case — prospects of Bowe Bergdahl’s release slipped again below the skyline of hope.

The news Tuesday showed a recent shift in U.S. policy: Instead of releasing Taliban prisoners piecemeal in order to make a determination of a good faith deal, the U.S. is now ready to release all five at the same time in exchange for Bergdahl.

This willingness to negotiate — and to realize the window of opportunity to seek Bergdahl’s release may be closing as Americans begin to disengage in Afghanistan — might be the strongest dot of any that will connect a path to Bergdahl’s ticket home to idaho.

Anybody who spouts off about knowing what is going on behind the scenes is likely not in a position to know. Silence is the SOP. These deals employ nuance upon nuance, and they often are as delicate as they are dangerous.

Frustrating as it seems, our military has ruled out military rescue attempts — delicate and dangerous — to date.

The most mystifying aspect of the recent Bergdahl activity is the publicity surfacing from what is usually a very hushed affair: Flag-rank Pentagon press secretaries solemnly saying Bergdahl has “been gone too long”; military officers in the know sending YouTube messages through Sen. Jim Risch’s office reassuring the Bergdahl family that everything is being done.

Yes, we should all err on the side of hope and prayer and success in this fragile moment. Dots are connecting in the direction that you would want them to go.

Godspeed to the process.

Whereas the rest of us have marked the time in years and fractions of years, the Bergdahl family lives the moments, the hours and the days unending.

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