April 29, 2014. Washington. Two separate Defense Department officials have confirmed for AP that the Obama administration has made little sincere effort to negotiate the release of America’s only official POW from Taliban forces. They say US bureaucrats are so disorganized, the Taliban can’t seem to give US POW Bowe Bergdahl back, regardless of how hard they’ve tried. And after five years, they still don’t know who’s in charge on the US side.
Even the Beatles’ Paul McCartney is wearing a POW Bowe Bergdahl awareness bracelet while rehearsing for the Grammy Awards. Image courtesy of American Soldier Network.
As detailed for years by independent news outlets like us here at Whiteout Press, but finally confirmed by Associated Press and Fox News, Taliban forces in Afghanistan have been eagerly trying to trade US Army Sgt. and prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl since his capture in 2009. But officials at both the US State Dept and the US Dept of Defense have shown little or no interest in securing his release. Now, with American forces nearing the end of their Afghan pull-out, the Obama White House says it’s finally negotiating the release of America’s only official POW/MIA. But the Taliban says it’s a lie.
Who’s in charge?
One would think it would be nearly impossible to find out who’s in charge among a band of underground revolutionaries living in hiding somewhere in the Middle East and considered to be one of the most dangerous terror organizations in the world. But apparently, it’s the US side that can’t get its act together and figure out who is leading the effort to secure the 28-year-old Idaho native’s release. Not surprisingly, after encountering a parade of different US agents, each claiming to be the only American with authority to negotiate Bergdahl’s release, the Taliban have thrown up their hands in frustration.
The US Defense official who recently spoke to AP on condition of anonymity listed off all the Obama administration officials and White House agencies that are supposed to be “refocusing” their efforts to get our POW back. But none of them are in charge or even pursuing Bergdahl’s release as their prime job duty. As the official explained, the effort was simply thrown on top of all their other responsibilities.
Among the disorganized US officials supposedly attempting to find and negotiate with POW Bowe Bergdahl’s Taliban captors, the DoD source says, “About two dozen officials at the State and Defense Departments, the military's US Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Special Operations Command, the CIA and FBI are working the case.”
Taliban can’t give US POW away, no matter how hard they try
The reports claiming Bergdahl’s Taliban captors are desperate to get this burden off their hands has appeared in the American press periodically over the past three years, but only at independent news outlets like Whiteout Press. At first, they wanted to exchange the US Army Sergeant for Afghans being held at Guantanamo Bay’s secret US prison - many of which are prisoners cleared for release and promised their freedom by then US Senator Obama if elected President. But President Obama flip-flopped on the issue and POW Bowe Bergdahl was never exchanged.
The latest report from Fox News goes on to explain, ‘Bergdahl's captors are anxious to release him, according to a defense official and a military officer, who both spoke to the Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.’ AP quotes the Defense Dept official saying, “Elements in all echelons - from the top of the Taliban down to the folks holding Bergdahl - are reaching out to make a deal.” Unfortunately, he confirms, the Obama White House hasn’t even responded to their overtures.
Is it a case of White House mismanagement? Or is it that President Obama and Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton just don’t care? If you’re the parents of a simple 23-year-old US Army Private whose been captured, beaten and tortured by the enemy, and then heartlessly left behind by his country, it really doesn’t matter why. POW Bowe Bergdahl’s parents are so devastated and disappointed by their government’s efforts, it was more than two years ago that this author began reporting on Bob Bergdahl’s determined effort to grow his beard out, learn to speak the local languages, and go to Afghanistan or Pakistan and get his son back himself.
US Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a retired US Marine and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, pulled no punches when he recently wrote an official letter to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. An excerpt of Hunter’s letter frustratingly said, “Given the significance and necessity for centralized command and control, which I have been informed is little to nonexistent, I urge you to seriously consider the idea of directing an individual to organize, manage and coordinate activity that involves multiple elements of the federal government working toward Bergdahl's release."
Obama MIA, Hagel takes charge
The recent reports from Associated Press and Fox News paint a picture of a sincere and committed Secretary of Defense who understands the problem and has gone above and beyond the call of duty to knock some heads together inside the Obama White House to get POW Bowe Bergdahl home. Literally within days of Rep. Hunter’s scathing letter to him explaining that nobody was in charge of the effort, Hagel appointed a single commander as point person. Unfortunately, he only represented the DoD, which did nothing to fix the problem.
Chuck Hagel then went one step further and wrote an official letter to President Obama asking him to either name a single person to take charge of the effort or designate the Defense Department as the lead US agency so Hagel’s commander could assume overall leadership and finally get the 28-year-old US Army Sergeant home. But putting their own selfish agendas over the release of America’s only POW, the State Dept, US Central Command and the National Security Council have all refused to relinquish their self-appointed authority on the matter. And most disappointing of all, President Obama refused to even respond to Hagel’s letter, much less act on the desperate request.
For its part, Congress has also been missing in action with regard to the effort to bring America’s POW home before the US completes its pull-out of Afghanistan. Team Bowe in Idaho has repeatedly voiced its disappointment in Idaho’s Senators and Representatives in Washington for not even making the slightest effort. This author’s US Congressman, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), didn’t even seem aware of Bowe Bergdahl’s existence when pressed in person about it three months ago by this author. And America’s most famous POW - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) - has recently brushed the prisoner exchange effort aside announcing simply, “That’s dead.” He went on to explain his hopelessness saying of President Obama, “How can you get him back if you are totally disorganized?"
Bergdahl family appeals for help
POW Bowe Bergdahl’s parents need help. It’s as simple as that. They’re regular people like you and me. They can’t afford to travel to any of the rallies, parades and demonstrations in honor of their son. They can’t travel to participate in press interviews when invited by media outlets around the country. They can’t buy advertising, but have luckily been aided by hundreds of volunteers and marketing companies who’ve donated whatever they can.
In our case here, Whiteout Press has published close to 200 free ads on our news articles over the past three years, in addition to the dozens of articles we’ve written and published to raise awareness. In the case of outdoor advertisers like Lamar Advertising, the company has donated free billboards for Bowe. Separately, CBS San Diego and Total Outdoor have also donated free billboards for the effort to bring Bowe Bergdahl home. And it isn’t just free advertising. Coca-cola just announced it would provide all the free beverages needed at the upcoming annual Bring Bowe Back festival.
Bring Bowe Back 2014 gathering
Two years ago, this author made a comment that proved more than true, ‘Veterans love bikes. And bikers love veterans.” The two most passionately dedicated groups that have helped in the effort to bring POW Bowe Bergdahl home since the beginning have been veterans and bikers. Previous rallies and gatherings to raise awareness have resulted in miles-long convoys of bikers flying POW/MIA flags, counting literally in the thousands.
This year’s Bring Bowe Back event should be no different. Scheduled for June 28, 2014, Bowe’s family, friends and supporters will all come together at Hop Potter Park in Hailey, Idaho. There will be live music, activities and crafts for the kids, a silent auction to raise desperately needed funds, an appearance by the always-supportive Miss Idaho 2013, and more. Speeches will be given by Bergdahl’s mom and dad, a local Idaho State Senator and even the Mayor of Hailey, who will be proudly performing the duties of Master of Ceremonies.
In addition to all the fun and festivities at the park on June 28th, there are also other related events taking place in coordination with the Bring Bowe Back rally in Hailey, Idaho. A 5k walk-run will take place with all proceeds going to the Bergdahl family’s travel expenses. And speaking of bikers, as they do each year, their hundreds or even thousands-strong convoy will ride across Idaho with a police escort from Twin Falls to Hailey, making a grand entrance at the Rally at Hop Potter Park.
With US forces completing their withdrawal from Afghanistan, time is rapidly slipping away to get POW Bowe Bergdahl home. Illustrating that, two years ago TIME Magazine published a Memorial Day commemoration that included the desperate plight of America’s lone POW. The piece quoted Bowe’s father Bob explaining, “If we wait too long, if we politicize this too long in Washington, the opportunity for diplomacy - that window - will close and Afghanistan will be engulfed in civil war again."
For more information, visit BringBoweBack2014.com.
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