POLITICS: White House

Report: Bowe Bergdahl declined to speak with his family

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Barack Obama,Taliban,Bowe Bergdahl,Becket Adams

After spending nearly five years in captivity, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has reportedly declined to speak with his family, a seemingly odd twist considering that his parents had campaigned tirelessly for his release.

However, a source familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal that it is not unusual for a former captive to wait at least a week before addressing family members.

The same source also said Bergdahl’s road to recovery may take some time, adding that Bergdahl said he was tortured and caged for trying to escape captivity.

"Reintegration after five years is going to be difficult and the process is not going to be any easier given the controversy and the vitriol around his case," a U.S. official told the Journal.

Bergdahl's return has been mired in controversy over claims he abandoned his unit in 2009 to seek out the Taliban. The Army sergeant's release in exchange for five Taliban officers has been further complicated by the fact that the Obama administration did not inform Congress of the deal, leading to charges that the administration may have violated a law requiring that the White House give U.S. lawmakers 30-day notice.

U.S. investigators have not yet questioned Bergdahl about the details surrounding his capture in 2009. Legal experts said that questioning the soldier now about his imprisonment would require that legal experts be brought in to offer him counsel, something they'd prefer to hold off on until he has had a chance to recover.

Although it's uncertain whether Bergdahl intentionally deserted his post to search out the Taliban, critics of the deal say the 28-year-old Idahoan should be court-martialed immediately.

“We know what he did," Michael Mukasey, a former federal judge and attorney general during the Bush administration, said Sunday. "You can't wait to try a case until you know absolutely everything about everything."

He said the Defense Department should work quickly to punish Bergdahl.

U.S. military officials maintain that it's unclear whether Bergdahl tried to defect, adding that his capture may have been the result of something as simple as incompetence. Top military leaders have promised that the circumstances leading to Bergdahl's capture will be thoroughly investigated.

For now, Bergdahl has been largely shielded from the media and the controversy surrounding his return as he undergoes medical treatment in a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

"The Department of Defense does not comment on discussions that Sergeant Bergdahl is having with the professionals who are providing him medical and reintegration care. We will respect that process in all regards," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

"As we have noted, the Army will conduct a comprehensive review to learn the circumstances of Sergeant Bergdahl's disappearance and captivity. That process, too, needs to be respected. Our focus remains on providing him with the care he needs."

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