Idaho native and U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has told military officials that he was tortured, first by his Taliban captors and then members of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-associated militant group that held him prisoner on more than one occasion.
Two American officials, each speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Bergdahl described being held in total darkness in a small "shark cage for weeks, possibly months." Bergdahl reportedly said he was held in the cage as apparent punishment for one or possibly two attempted escapes.
“It’s safe to assume” that Sergeant Bergdahl was “held in harsh conditions,” a senior Defense Department official said Saturday. “These are Taliban, not wet nurses.”
Doctors at the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, have confirmed that the 28-year-old Bergdahl currently suffers from skin and gum disorders but is otherwise physically sound. He weighs about 160 pounds.
This morning's New York Times reports that Bergdahl put on his Army uniform for the first time in five years, and has taken walks through the Landstuhl hospital corridors.
Meanwhile, the FBI has confirmed that Bergdahl's family in Hailey have received threats, and local and national law enforcement are "taking each threat seriously." Bergdahl's freedom—now only about one week old—has become the center of intense scrutiny, with criticism surrounding the terms of his release, his previous statements about the U.S. Army and the possibility that Bergdahl walked away from his post and ultimately into the hands of his captors.
However, the Times reports that when hospital staff call Bergdahl "sergeant," he bristles. Bergdahl was promoted twice while in captivity, rising in the ranks from private to sergeant.
"He says, 'Don't call me that,'" an American official told the Times. "'I didn't go before the boards. I didn't earn it.'"
Meanwhile former U.S. Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in an interview to air on ABC News this coming week, says she supports President Barack Obama's decision to bring Bergdahl home in exchange for for five Taliban POW's.
"If you look at the factors going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values," said Clinton. "And one of our values is: we bring everybody home off the battlefield, the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation. It does not matter. We bring our people home."