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Monday, June 2, 2014

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl free at last

In the eyes of President Obama's political opponents, the US has just negotiated a deal that will cost them dearly - the release of five of the most important Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for one American soldier.

But it won't be a happy homecoming for Bowe Bergdahl because there is speculation that he deserted.

Bergdahl was captured on 30 June 2009 in Afghanistan's Paktika Province where he was deployed with the 25th Infantry Division. He disappeared after finishing a guard shift at a combat outpost.  It was about 4.30am when he was first reported missing and by 7am, his comrades began an all-out search to find him, according to WikiLeaks, but there was no sign of him.  One report said he walked off the post while another said he was grabbed from a latrine.

The White House said they had to act quickly as his health was rapidly deteriorating. "The United States of America does not leave our men or women in uniform behind" President Obama said yesterday.

Two Republican lawmakers said Obama violated US law when he approved the exchange without notifying Congress 30 days in advance. In response, the White House said that had they waited the mandatory 30 days, the opportunity to bring him home safely would have been lost.

Late on Saturday afternoon in Afghanistan, Bergdahl was led to a meeting point where US commandos were waiting.  In the air above, helicopter gunships circled.  Slowly Bergdahl walked toward the commandos who quickly searched him for explosives and within minutes he was airborne.  The helicopter rotors were so loud, he couldn't communicate clearly so he grabbed a paper plate and wrote "SF?"  When he heard "Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time" he wept for joy.

And now his story is about to be heard.