Bloomberg by the Numbers: 1,796

A sign announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a window on June 1, 2014 in Hailey, Idaho.

Photograph by Scott Olson/Getty Images

A sign announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a window on June 1, 2014 in Hailey, Idaho.

That’s how many days passed between Bowe Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban and his release to U.S. forces in Eastern Afghanistan.

Bergdahl, an Army sergeant held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009, was released May 31 as part of a prisoner exchange that released five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to authorities in Qatar.

“Once retrieved, Bergdahl was initially taken to a forward operating base in Afghanistan and from there moved to Bagram Airfield before heading to an army medical center in Landstuhl, Germany,” Bloomberg’s Gopal Ratnam reported.

“This was an operation that had to be very closely held and only very, very, few people knew about this operation,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

Bowe Bergdahl’s parents appeared with President Barack Obama at the White House on the day of his release. The parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, held a press conference yesterday in Boise, Idaho.

“The recovery and reintegration of Bowe Bergdahl is a work in progress,” Bob Bergdahl said in comments broadcast on CNN.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Ted Cruz of Texas and Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois raised concerns about the prisoner swap and the precedent it could set.

McCain, who was a prisoner of war for more than five years during the Vietnam War, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” yesterday that “we’re all grateful” that Bergdahl has returned to U.S. protection, “there are legitimate questions about these individuals who are being released and the conditions under which they will be released.”

“The release of five mid-to-high level Taliban is shocking to me, especially without coming to Congress,” Kinzinger, a veteran of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The secretary of defense is required to give Congress 30 days’ notice before any transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

Hagel said on NBC yesterday that the U.S. needed to take urgent action to “save the life of Sergeant Bergdahl.”

“We had information that his health could be deteriorating rapidly,” Hagel said. “There was a question about his safety. We found an opportunity, we took that opportunity. I’ll stand by that decision. I signed off on the decision; the president made the ultimate decision.”

 

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