Report: Bergdahl Walked Off Twice Before Disappearing in 2009

Two reports released today reveal new details about the dealings of the capture and release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban forces. The first report, from the New York Times, states that Bergdahl walked away from designated areas on military bases twice—once in Afghanistan, and once in California—before disappearing in June 2009.

The report, based on a 35-page classified military document completed two months after Bergdahl's disappearance, points to his history of leaving assigned areas, complicating public accusations that Bergdahl is a deserter. From the New York Times:

The issue is murky, the report said, in light of Sergeant Bergdahl's previous episodes of walking off. The report cites accounts from his unit mates that in their predeployment exercise at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., he sneaked or crawled off a designated course or range either to see how far he could go or to see a sunrise or sunset.

The report is also said to cite members of his platoon as saying that he may have taken a shorter unauthorized walk outside the concertina wire of his combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan before he left for good, in an incident that was apparently not reported up the chain of command.

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The second report, from the Associated Press, cites three congressional officials who said Congress wasn't informed of the deal to trade five Guantanamo prisoners because the Taliban had threatened to kill Bergdahl if the deal was made public. From Associated Press:

The threat, — not just concerns that Bergdahl's health might be failing — drove the Obama administration to quickly make the deal to rescue him, the officials said Thursday. The threat was transmitted by Qatari officials at the height of the negotiations, they said.

The reports come one day after video of Bergdahl's handoff from the Taliban was released.

[Image via AP]