Real-world prisoner trades don’t look much like their Hollywood counterparts. There’s no brandishing of guns, little shouting, no rash, last-minute moves. A video released Wednesday shows the uneventful handoff of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. forces.
The full video, embedded below, begins with Taliban forces waiting around for the Americans. Bergdahl is visible, sitting in the back of a pickup truck. A Talib speaks with and gesticulates at him. A graphic flashes: “Don’t come back to Afghanistan.” Eventually a Blackhawk helicopter comes into view. Then greetings, a quick pat-down of Bergdahl and off the chopper goes.
(If you don’t want to sit through the entire video, the prisoner exchange begins at 6:22.)
Bergdahl walks himself to the helicopter but the true state of his health — something the Obama administration cited as a major factor in its decision to make the swap — is impossible to know from just watching the video.
The video’s most incongruous scene comes when U.S. special forces wave to their Taliban counterparts:
And if the Taliban’s message in releasing the video wasn’t apparent, they have a helpful graphic:
Shane Harris is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy, covering intelligence and cyber security. He is the author of The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, which chronicles the creation of a vast national security apparatus and the rise of surveillance in America. The Watchers won the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Economist named it one of the best books of 2010. Shane is the winner of the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. He has four times been named a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, which honor the best journalists in America under the age of 35. Prior to joining Foreign Policy, he was the senior writer for The Washingtonian and a staff correspondent at National Journal.| Report |