WASHINGTON D.C. — Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is speaking out for the first time since he was released in a prisoner swap last year. Bergdahl was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009 after wandering from his post in Afghanistan. His first interviews are now on the podcast, “Serial.”
The Army’s investigation of Bergdahl portrayed him as a cock-eyed idealist, an image he seemed to confirm in his own words. The solider the Army has charged with desertion and some have branded a traitor, told an interviewer he abandoned his post in an effort to draw attention to problems within his own unit.
“All I was seeing was basically, leadership failure to the point that the lives of the guys standing next to me, were, literally, from what I could see, in danger of something seriously going wrong and somebody being killed,” Bergdahl said in the podcast.
“That was a gutsy move,” said the interviewer Mark Boal.
“Gutsy, but still stupid,” Bergdahl responded.
Bergdahl said it wasn’t long after he walked away that he realized how stupid.
“Twenty minutes out, I’m going ‘good grief. I’m way over my head’… suddenly it really starts to sink in,” Bergdahl said. “I really did something bad. Well, not bad, but I really did something serious.”
It took the Taliban about a day to find him.
“I couldn’t do anything against six or seven guys with AK-47s, and they pulled up and that was it,” Bergdahl said.
Bergdahl spent the next five years as a prisoner of the Taliban, much of it in a pitch-black room.
“To the point where you just want to scream, and like I can’t scream. I can’t risk that, so it’s like you’re standing there, screaming in your mind,” Bergdahl recalls.
Bergdahl’s stunt backfired not only on himself, but also on his fellow soldiers. Their lives were put in greater jeopardy by having to spend the next several weeks hunting for him.
The Army still has not decided what it will do with Bergdahl. He faces charges that could bring a life sentence, but investigators have recommended he not spend anymore time in prison.