June 8th, 2014
04:37 PM ET
9 years ago

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

(CNN) - U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was promoted while held prisoner by the Taliban, said he wants to be recognized by his old rank, according to a senior U.S. official.

"In his mind, he's a Pfc," the official told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr on Sunday.

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Now in the beginning of the lengthy road to reintegration after his exchange for five Taliban commanders previously held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, Bergdahl is letting those around him know he still feels like a Pfc, regardless of his in-absentia promotion. The U.S. official could not confirm to CNN whether Bergdahl has resumed wearing his uniform but added that doing so is part of the standard reintegration process.

The Pentagon issued a brief statement Sunday, declining to comment on Bergdahl's recovery process beyond saying the Defense Department continues to evaluate Bergdahl, provide him with medical and reintegration care and remains intent on conducting a comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

"Our focus remains on providing him with the care he needs," Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

The few details emerging around the soldier's recovery after his five years in captivity are a prelude to what's shaping up to be a week defined by confrontation over President Barack Obama and his administration's move to exchange Bergdahl for five Taliban hardliners previously determined too high a risk to release.

The White House executed the deal without consulting or notifying Congress, something various critics of the high-stakes exchange have since labeled an illegal action that violates the National Defense Authorization Act. The Oval Office has defended its decision, citing Bergdahl's rapidly declining health and concerns he could be killed should news of the negotiations leak.

The senior U.S. official cited a proof of life video reportedly shown to senators in a classified intelligence briefing on Thursday as evidence of Bergdahl's worsening condition. The official said the determination, based on that December video, that Bergdahl's health was failing represented the best assessment of the intelligence community at the time. The source also brushed aside any assertion that politics played a role in the White House has sought to characterize Bergdahl's condition.

Senators who attended the briefing left with mixed opinions, with some saying Bergdahl looked sick while others speculated he was drugged in the video in question.

On the potential threat to Bergdahl's life, the official claimed the timeline for the swap accelerated once the agreement was made, hastened by fears that "other Taliban elements might kill him." Senior national security officials were briefed on these developments between the time the Obama administration struck a deal with the Taliban and Bergdahl's handover to American forces at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

All these claims are bound to be put under intense scrutiny this week, with multiple congressional briefings on the docket for defense officials.

Though it's still unclear if they will be shown the December proof of life video shown to senators last week, all House members will receive a closed-door briefing from White House, Pentagon and State Department officials at 5 p.m. Monday. On Tuesday, administration officials will hold another session with the upper chamber, briefing members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the details of the video and their justifications for bypassing congressional input.

The real fireworks, however, are expected to come on Wednesday when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee.

Filed under: Bowe Bergdahl
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. sonnie3

    This deal wreaks and does not pass the smell test. Just one more Oblunder to the very long list.

    June 8, 2014 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  2. dameglet

    They have no issues with releasing the five Taliban commanders. They've been looking forward to it. They are supremely confident they have ways of keeping those Taliban ex-detainees in check. Why? Because they're eager to test out the bugs/transponders they've planted in their bodies.

    June 9, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  3. WoodinVirginia

    When is the last time you saw a Republican Ex Senator get routed out by another group of Republicans it aint gonna happen especially some one who is battled tested in the Vietnam war and survived.. Half the politicians who might question him have NEVER SERVED in the military a day in their lives !!! THey can't make hard decisions and if we depended on Congress to make all our decision for us under the leadership of Boehner/Cantor we would have a do- little Congress. Which is exactly what we do have a do-little congress! Wher was it you say Boehner and Cantor served in the Armed Services?? Heh? Still waiting... fact is Boehner served 8 weeks got discharged by a bad back during Vietnam and Cantor never served in the military.. Don't expect anything to come from these two...

    June 9, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  4. Jonathan

    What a terrible negotiator.

    June 9, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  5. ghost

    These 5 people had been out of the fight since the beginning of the war. Really! How bad can they be? Get over it GOP. CLINTON 2016!!!

    June 9, 2014 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  6. vreynauld

    Don't worry, Sgt. Bergdahl, you won't have to worry about your promotion much longer. You won't even be PFC Bergdahl when you're in Leavenworth.

    June 9, 2014 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  7. ronvan

    FACT OR FICTION? Wasn't the reason for the trade made due to his "failing health" and life threatening conditions? IF so then how come he can make a statement like this? Seems like he has enough "awareness" to understand what he is being told and to relay his comments. Bring him home, keep him on an Army post and get the investigation & trial going!

    June 9, 2014 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  8. salty dog

    Its the Republican in him, edlf

    June 9, 2014 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  9. salty dog

    Why did Obama take my three seventy? The technology is fascinating, but 240 people?

    June 9, 2014 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  10. smith

    If Bergdahl wants to demote himself, let him. Berghdahl is probalby gonna get an Article 15(NJP) and get a medical discharge. All those hoping for a court martial ,thats wishful thinking at best.

    June 9, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
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