Skip to main content

The Bergdahl exchange: Catch up on the latest developments

By Ed Payne and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 7:43 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Lawmakers say they're still skeptical after a briefing on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's case
  • NEW: King: "At least 80 to 90 people in the administration were aware of this proposed deal"
  • NEW: White House official: Specifics of the prisoner swap "were more closely held'
  • Bergdahl was kept in a pitch black cage for weeks at a time

(CNN) -- Lawmakers drew battle lines for a fresh round of sparring over U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after a classified briefing Monday on the prisoner swap that led to his release. Authorities released an update about his condition. And more details emerged about his time in captivity.

Details about why he disappeared off a military base nearly five years ago and ended up in Taliban hands remain murky. One thing is clear: the political debate over Bergdahl's release is showing no signs of dying down.

New details on Bergdahl's captivity
Kerry warns Taliban
McCain: Bergdahl swap too great a risk

Here's a cheat sheet on the latest developments, based on CNN's reporting:

After classified briefing, lawmakers have 'more concerns'

Monday it was the House of Representatives' turn to hear the Obama administration's explanation of how it handled Bergdahl's case, as top White House deputies tried to convince lawmakers they made the right call when they didn't notify Congress in advance about the controversial exchange of Bergdahl for five Taliban figures.

But it didn't seem like many minds were changed after the classified briefing, CNN's Dana Bash reported.

"If anything, I have more concerns," said Rep. Peter King, R-New York. "Probably the most distressing thing or the most disturbing thing I heard was at least 80 to 90 people in the administration were aware of this proposed deal, and yet they couldn't notify anyone in Congress."

After Monday's briefing, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that figure was the number of people in the administration authorized to get intelligence information about the Taliban in Qatar.

"The specifics of the detainee exchange and the related military operation were more closely held," she said.

Why wasn't Congress told about the deal beforehand? Lawmakers at Monday's briefing said they were told concerns over possible leaks made the White House keep them in the dark over the deal.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, told CNN's "Erin Burnett: Outfront" that the White House should have told congressional leaders, even if the law gave them wiggle room.

"I think the President had the constitutional authority ... to make this decision without consulting with Congress, but I think it would have been wiser, far wiser, for the administration to have notified certainly the leadership of Congress in the interest of having good relations," he said.

"Most of the leaks that have taken place have come from the administration and not from Congress," he added, "so they really should have brought at least the leadership within their confidence, and I think that was a mistake."

And that's not all. Some lawmakers are also steamed about the terms of the deal. They say they're worried that the five Taliban figures released could end up back on the battlefield -- a concern administration officials have downplayed in their public comments defending the deal.

Don't expect the sparring to stop any time soon. A briefing of the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled for Tuesday.

And the real fireworks are expected to come Wednesday, when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee, where he'll likely face questions about the administration's decision not to seek congressional input on the deal that secured Bergdahl's release.

Bergdahl hasn't spoken to his parents yet

Has Bergdahl affected the Obama 'brand'?
Alan Gross, at right with Rabbi Arthur Schneier, has been in Cuban custody since December 2009, when he was jailed while working as a subcontractor. Cuban authorities say Gross tried to set up illegal Internet connections on the island. Gross says he was just trying to help connect the Jewish community to the Internet. Former President Jimmy Carter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have both traveled to Cuba on Gross' behalf. On December 17, Gross was released from Cuban prison. Alan Gross, at right with Rabbi Arthur Schneier, has been in Cuban custody since December 2009, when he was jailed while working as a subcontractor. Cuban authorities say Gross tried to set up illegal Internet connections on the island. Gross says he was just trying to help connect the Jewish community to the Internet. Former President Jimmy Carter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have both traveled to Cuba on Gross' behalf. On December 17, Gross was released from Cuban prison.
Americans detained abroad
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Americans detained abroad Photos: Americans detained abroad

Bergdahl is "continuing to improve every day" as he recovers at a military hospital in Germany, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Monday

But he hasn't spoken with his family yet.

The "decision to speak with the family is a decision the returnee has to make when he or she is emotionally in the right place to make the phone call," Warren said.

Doctors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where Bergdahl was taken after his handover, have said he's in stable condition but not ready yet to travel to the United States.

"There is no predetermined timeline for Sgt. Bergdahl's recovery process," a hospital statement said Friday. "The duration will continue to be based on the pace of his healing and reintegration process."

When he is ready, Bergdahl will be flown to the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Texas, where he may be able to reunite with his parents.

He was kept in a cage

As Bergdahl recovers, details are slowly emerging about the conditions he endured during five years of captivity.

Citing an American official, The New York Times reported Sunday that Bergdahl told medical staff that the box he was kept in for weeks at a time was pitch black and like a shark cage.

CNN reported Friday that Bergdahl has said he was kept in a small box after trying to escape, according to a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of not being identified. The official also told CNN that Bergdahl suffers from psychological trauma caused by physical abuse.

A Taliban source with knowledge of Bergdahl's captivity told CNN's Nic Robertson on Sunday that Bergdahl escaped at one point and was on the run for three days. When he was recaptured after that attempt, according to the Taliban source, he was not punished with a cage or cell, but was taken to a more secure location where he had no chance to escape.

A U.S. official told CNN last week that Bergdahl may have tried to escape his Taliban captors on at least two occasions.

He wants to be recognized by his old rank

The Times report added that Bergdahl has taken walks outside his hospital room while wearing his Army uniform, according to the American official. Bergdahl, who was promoted twice on schedule while in captivity, objects to being called sergeant, the Times reported.

Bergdahl said he wants to be recognized by his old rank, a senior U.S. official told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr on Sunday.

Bergdahl was a private first class when he went missing on June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan's Paktika province, where he was deployed with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

"In his mind, he's a Pfc," the official told Starr.

READ: U.S. official: Bergdahl wants to be called private first class

His parents have received threats

The FBI is investigating threats against Bergdahl's parents, who have not been seen publicly since sending their son messages of love through a news conference days after his release.

"We are working jointly with our state and local partners and taking each threat seriously," FBI Special Agent William Facer told CNN in an e-mail Saturday.

Facer declined to detail the nature and severity of the threats, and a military representative for the Bergdahls declined to comment.

Bergdahl's father received threats in three messages via e-mail at his home, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the contents of the e-mail. The first threat came on Wednesday, the official said, adding that FBI investigators will be tracing the messages to pinpoint who sent them.

Since Bergdahl's release, critics, including a former member of his unit, have contended that Bergdahl deserted. The Army concluded in a 2009 report that he left his post deliberately. But the Army has no definitive finding that Bergdahl deserted because that would require knowing his intent -- something Army officials can't learn without talking to the soldier, a U.S. military official told CNN.

READ: How did six soldiers die after Bergdahl's disappearance?

READ: How did 6 die after Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance?

READ: Susan Rice defends Bergdahl comments, calls his service 'honorable'

READ: The Bergdahl Files: A custom magazine

CNN's Elise Labott, Barbara Starr, Kevin Liptak, Jake Tapper, Qadir Sediqi, Ed Lavandera, Devon Sayers, Shimon Prokupecz, Deirdre Walsh, Ashleigh Banfield and Chloe Sommers contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl released
updated 8:36 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
It was perhaps the most contentious moment during a House Armed Services Committee hearing filled with them.
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Could former U.S. State Department contractor Alan Gross be part of a new prisoner swap?
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
What happened to six of Bergdahl's platoonmates in the months after he disappeared? Some are blaming their deaths on Bergdahl.
updated 7:43 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
The deaths of six U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are being tied, directly or indirectly, to the search for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
CNN's Jake Tapper's in-depth, three-part documentary, reporting on Bergdahl's time in captivity, life before the Army and what happened the night he disappeared in Afghanistan.
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release from Taliban captivity was largely celebrated at first.
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Alisa Weinstein was thrilled when she heard about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release. She hopes her father will be next.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
The recent release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has refocused attention on some of the other Americans held captive in that region.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Bob Bergdahl was startling to see and hear at first: the father had seemingly morphed into an Afghan tribesman, wearing a long beard and even speaking Pashto.
updated 9:43 PM EDT, Fri June 6, 2014
Marcus Luttrell, a fomer Navy SEAL and the author of "Lone Survivor," talks about being trapped behind enemy lines.
updated 5:00 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
Could the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl set a precedent for swaps involving other countries holding U.S. military or diplomatic personnel?
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
President Obama defends his decision to swap imprisoned terrorists for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Veterans and soldiers call him a deserter whose "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men.
updated 7:14 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
People who know Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have described him as a well-rounded, well-grounded and hardworking young man.
updated 7:55 PM EDT, Sat May 31, 2014
Together with the news that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released came word that five detainees at Guantanamo Bay were being transferred to Qatar.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Guantanamo Bay detainees have long been considered America's most dangerous enemies.
updated 6:52 PM EDT, Sat May 31, 2014
The parents of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl joined President Obama as they await their son's return.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT