The AP reports that Bergdahl, who was freed after almost five years when the U.S. agreed to trade five Taliban prisoners in exchange for the U.S. soldier, was tortured and beaten and held in a cage in Afghanistan.
The New York Times adds that Bergdahl is still receiving medical treatment in a military hospital in Germany. He has not been allowed to consume media coverage, so he is oblivious to the debate his release has unleashed in the United States.
The paper adds:
“He has received a letter from his sister but has not yet responded, and objects when hospital staff address him as sergeant instead of private first class, his rank when he was captured nearly five years ago after walking off a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan, the official said.
“While medical officials are pressing him for details about his time in captivity to help begin repairing his medical and psychological wounds, these specialists have not yet focused on the critical questions about why he left his outpost and how he was captured by insurgents, the officials said — and there is no predetermined schedule for doing so.
“‘Physically, he could be put on a plane to the U.S. tomorrow, but there are still a couple of mental criteria to address: the family unification piece and the media exposure piece,’ said one American official who has been briefed on the sergeant’s condition.”
Meanwhile, NPR has confirmed that the FBI is investigating threats made against Bergdahl’s parents, though the nature of those threats is still unclear. Critics have claimed that Bergdahl deserted and that other soldiers were killed in the search for him.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the town of Hailey, Idaho, was planning a homecoming celebration for Bergdahl but ended up canceling. City Hall, for example, received many letters criticizing the president’s decision and calling Bergdahl’s father a Muslim.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the administration decision in an interview with CNN today.
He said it would be “offensive and incomprehensible to leave an American behind.” Especially, Kerry said, with captors who may “torture him, cut off his head.”
Kerry also said the five Guantánamo detainees released in exchange for Bergdahl are being watched by Qatar and others.
“I’m not telling you that they don’t have some ability at some point to go back and get involved (in fighting),” Kerry told CNN. “But they also have an ability to get killed doing that.”