Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed May 31 after five years as a prisoner of the Taliban-allied Haqqani network, arrived Friday morning in Texas, where he will continue his recovery process at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, and eventually be reunited with his parents, Army officials said.
Bergdahl has told his doctors and debriefers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany that he was repeatedly tortured and sometimes kept in a cage during his captivity, according to U.S. officials. While doctors have said his physical condition is stable, they say he is psychologically fragile, and there has been concern about how he will weather his return to the United States, where media attention on his story has been intense.
Questions remain about why Bergdahl walked off his post in eastern Afghanistan, and he has become the subject of speculation and fierce criticism from some of his fellow soldiers and others, who have portrayed him as a deserter.
A close circle of Bergdahl’s friends have said that his emotional health, about which they had worried long before he joined the Army, may have been a factor. In his own writing in journals and computer files provided to The Washington Post, Bergdahl chronicles his struggles with his own mental well-being and writes frequently of his dreams of walking away and living the solitary life of a “storyteller.”
Thursday, the Daily Beast Web site published two letters obtained from sources in touch with the Taliban who said they were written by Bergdahl while he was in captivity and passed to his parents through the International Red Cross. The Post could not independently verify the authenticity of the letters. The Daily Beast reported that U.S. and foreign officials said Bergdahl’s parents believe they were written by their son.
In one of the letters, dated March 23, 2013, Bergdahl says that he left the base because of poor command.
“Leadership was lacking, if not non-existent,” reads the letter, which is full of the sort of spelling mistakes common in Bergdahl’s journal. “The conditions were bad and looked to be getting worse for the men that where actuly the ones risking their lives from attack.”
Earlier, it says, “If this letter makes it to the U.S.A., tell those involved in the investigation that there are more sides to the cittuwation and original plans never came clear. Please tell D.C. to wait for all evadince to come in.”
Bergdahl’s writings in his journal and laptop computer are mostly searching and philosophical, but he occasionally describes life at his post in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, including one failed mission in which he expresses frustration with his commanders.
“One must act like a snoop to learn what exactly what it is thats going on, for command acts like their guarding some kind of secerets when ever oders are passed out,” he writes.
The other letter, dated Nov. 27, 2012, has different handwriting and is far more philosophical. It talks about the spring and rain and the importance of “expanding the mind beyond what you think you know,” which is in keeping with the tone of Bergdhal’s journal and other writing, which often dwell on the beauty of nature, his frustration with “shallowness” and his quest for “realness.”
“And though the realness of time, death, life, existence, thought, dreams, imagination, and the changing of these is beyond the complete comprehension of the human mind, it is not our place to understand these thing,” he wrote in a computer file dated April 23, 2009, approximately two months before he walked off his base. “It is our job to live these things.”