There is a name that should be on everyone’s lips today, and yet even after I name him, most won’t know who he is. His name should be on everyone’s lips every day, but today more than others as this is the third Friday in September, the date set aside as National POW/MIA Recognition day. Here’s one final hint: Who is the only confirmed, living American prisoner of war?
PFC. Bowe R. Bergdahl was captured on June 30, 2009, in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan; he has since been promoted twice by the U.S to his current rank of sergeant. Since then, there have been by some reports three and by others five, proof of life videos, the most recent one airing early this year on a Jihadist website. It is believed he is currently being held in Pakistan by the Haqqani network, a group associated with both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Also confirmed early this year were acknowledgments that the U.S. was in contact with an office in Qatar opened by the Taliban. It is reportedly ostensibly to hold talks with the U.S. on neutral ground. The captors have demanded that the U.S. release specific prisoners from Guantanamo and Bagram, pay one million US dollars, and various other conditions in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bergdahl. It has been believed that those who captured Bergdahl back in 2009 have sold him, as a commodity, to other groups, which in part explains the varying demands issued for his release; it is unknown how many times he has changed hands, but it is widely believed he has been held in Pakistan continuously since shortly after his capture by one group or another. As of January 2012, the state department confirmed that there was a preliminary deal being discussed wherein five senior leaders from Guantanamo could be exchanged for one American, though sources refused to name Bergdahl as that American. Since then, the deal apparently fell apart, causing Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents to publicy express frustration at the pace of efforts to secure the release of their son.
Another development that has recently come to light is that the Navy SEALS attempted at least one rescue mission while Bergdahl was still believed to be in Afghanistan. This one mission was discussed in the recently published controversial book “No Easy Day” by Matt Bissonnette, a former member of SEAL Team Six who was a part of the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. In the book, Bissonnette, who published the book under the pseudonym of Mark Owen, writes that the SEALS launched “several rescue attempts…to get him back before they smuggled him to Pakistan”. The one mission that Bissonnette goes into detail about has him saying that they believe they missed finding Bergdahl by hours at most, possibly by minutes as there were fighters seen fleeing the compound as the SEALS sought to contain it; the author carries the belief that Bergdahl was there and had they acted sooner or with greater force, they would have been able to secure Bergdahl’s return.
While controversy rages around the publishing of this book, there has been an ominous silence on the fate and future of Sgt. Bergdahl. It is this silence that forced his parents to take the rare and risky step of speaking out. While they are cautious in what they say, fearing anything they do may place their son’s life in further jeopardy, they are understandably frustrated with what seems to be a lack of interest on the part of the American people. The simple fact that every newscast, at the top of every hour, does not have a mention of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s continued and counting captivity is something that dismays them and the supporters of the many grass-roots movements attempting to bring awareness to his plight. It is mind boggling, they say, that there is an American POW, right now, being held in Pakistan and not only does the American public not know his name, they don’t even know that an American soldier has been a POW for more than three years.
I’m not sure who I’m more disgusted with over this, the government for not speaking about it or the media for not reporting it. On this score, on this issue, both are abysmal failures.
So, today, at least today, tell someone about Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl, the only American prisoner of war. And as you say a prayer for his release, say another that he remains the only one as we wait until they all come home.