Pentagon Thinks Haqqani Drugged Bergdahl for Proof-of-Life Video
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 07:28 AM
By: Elliot Jager
A Defense Department report prepared by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, concluded that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was probably drugged for a December 2013 video his captors filmed to prove that he was alive, The Washington Times reported.
A number of lawmakers came to the same conclusion after watching the video during a Capitol Hill briefing following Bergdahl's release in exchange for five senior Taliban commanders.
The drugs made Bergdahl look like he was in failing health, weak, and lethargic. The video, taken by his Taliban-affiliated Haqqani captors, was a key factor in the Obama administration's decision to go ahead with the May 31 deal, the Times reported.
Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, cited concern over Bergdahl's health as a central reason for moving ahead with the exchange. National Intelligence spokesman Brian Hale said that concern over Bergdahl's "deteriorating" health led officials to fear "that every day he was a prisoner, his life was at risk, and in the video received in January, he did not look well."
Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters after viewing the video said that Bergdahl seemed drugged. "It appeared that he was drugged and that he was barely responsive in the video itself."
He added, "I don't think, from a health standpoint, there was any issue that dictated the release of these five nasty killers in exchange for Bergdahl."
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who is a physician, said it seemed that the soldier had been given an antipsychotic or a hypnotic drug. "His speech was slurred. He was having trouble reading. He had what's called nystagmus [involuntary eye movements]. He'd been obviously drugged."
The proof-of-life video has not been released to the public though California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has written to the Defense Department asking that both the video and the health assessment document be declassified, the Times reported.
Authorities compared the proof-of-life video to an earlier video done in May 2011— which showed Bergdahl being blindfolded and led away— further contributing to the assessment that his health was worsening, according to The Washington Post.
The Taliban made several propaganda videos of Bergdahl including one in April 2010 that showed him in apparent good physical shape, according to a support group that had advocated his release.
Bergdahl had been held since June 2009.