Bergdahl Says he Was Tortured, Kept in Cage by Taliban Captors

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 8 2014 12:11 PM

Bergdahl Says he Was Tortured, Kept in Cage by Taliban Captors

80178026
In this undated image provided by the U.S. Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl poses in front of an American flag

Photo by U.S. Army via Getty Images

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl continues to be oblivious to the controversy that was sparked by his release from Taliban captivity as part of a prisoner exchange program last week. But he has apparently started opening up about how his captors treated him. The New York Times talks to U.S. officials who say Bergdahl has told people treating him at a military facility in Germany that he was kept in a metal cage in total darkness for weeks at a time after he tried to escape. It’s unclear whether he tried to escape once or twice. The Associated Press confirms the information with a “senior U.S. official,” who claims Bergdahl has told people treating him that he was tortured and beaten during his captivity. The revelation isn't exactly surprising to U.S. officials. "These are Taliban, not wet nurses," a senior Defense Department official tells the Times.

Although Bergdahl is apparently physically able to travel he isn’t psychologically ready to meet with his family yet. Once he’s ready for the next step, he will be transferred to a medical facility in San Antonio, where he will likely at least speak to his family, who have reportedly been receiving threats since his release. Although Bergdahl has received a letter from his sister, he has yet to respond. The Wall Street Journal hears word from a U.S. official that Bergdahl has refused to speak with his family. In an interesting insight into Bergdahl's state of mind, theTimes also reports that he strongly objects to when hospital staff address him as sergeant, a rank he obtained after two automatic promotions during his captivity, rather than private first class. “He says, ‘Don’t call me that,’” an American official said. “‘I didn’t go before the boards. I didn’t earn it.’”

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the prisoner swap on CNN, saying it would have been “offensive and incomprehensible” to leave behind a prisoner of war. “To leave an American behind, in the hands of people that torture him, cut off his head, do any number of things, and we would consciously choose to do that? That’s the other side of this equation,” Kerry said. “I don’t think anybody would think that is the appropriate thing to do.” Kerry also said the former Guantanamo detainees will be closely monitored.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?