A heartfelt explanation for sharing Bowe Bergdahl’s journal


This camouflage case belonging to Bowe Bergdahl was sent to his friend, Kim Harrison, with a variety of contents including paperwork and a journal. Bergdahl sent it to his friend, Kim Harrison. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post)

The Washington Post’s Stephanie McCrummen broke a major story in the Bowe Bergdahl saga this morning, using passages from the soldier’s journal to depict him as a complicated individual with a fragile psyche and a deep concern about his place in the world.

As stated in the story, McCrummen obtained the journal from Kim Harrison, a close friend of Bergdahl’s. They met when Bergdahl began taking ballet and fencing lessons at an arts center she ran in Ketchum, Idaho, near his hometown of Hailey, The Post reported Wednesday.

Several days before Bergdahl disappeared from his patrol base in Afghanistan in 2009, he sent a box to Harrison containing his blue spiral-bound journal, his laptop computer, a copy of the novel “Atlas Shrugged,” and other items, McCrummen reported. The journal in that box played a key role in her story.

In a follow up interview with The Post on Wednesday, Harrison said she wrestled with her decision to share the journal, finally deciding to do so with a long-form newspaper writer because she felt it would be the best way to capture what she considered to be Bergdahl’s complexity and character. She has only given two interviews in five years, she said, and she does not plan to do any more at this point. Harrison also elaborated on her own motivations in an anguished statement she shared with the Post and other reporters:

“I hope with my whole being that what I have decided to do will have the intended effect. Love and compassion. Understanding that you cannot throw a tender artist’s soul into war, and then hold them accountable to the expectations of a media machine. Unfit for combat does not mean unfit for an inspirational and exceptional life.  He is worth protecting. He is courageous and noble. He is loved.”

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.
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Dan Lamothe · June 11