I know I’ve been droning on about the note all day but I need to flag this, as it’s the first time someone’s gone on record on camera about it. Let me recap why this is important. Three days ago, the New York Times cited a “former senior military officer” for the claim that Bergdahl had left a note behind in his tent the night he disappeared saying “he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life.” Pretty strong evidence of desertion; in fact, it’s the only hard evidence of Bergdahl’s motives that allegedly exists. The same day, Fox News reported that two unnamed former members of Bergdahl’s unit also claim that he left a note, and that the note suggested not only desertion but an intent to renounce his citizenship. All of this came as a shock to Saxby Chambliss, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had read the classified file on Bergdahl and saw nothing in there about a note.
That’s when things started to get weird.
I asked Jake Tapper, who’s interviewed multiple members of Bergdahl’s unit, how many of them have mentioned a note. Answer:
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 5, 2014
The military’s classified 35-page report on Bergdahl’s disappearance also says nothing about a note. The Times was surprised by that and went back to its original source, the “former senior military officer,” to ask what gives. Here’s what he told them:
Asked about what appeared to be a disconnect, the retired officer insisted that he remembered reading a field report discussing the existence of such a letter in the early days of the search and was unable to explain why it is not mentioned in the final investigative report.
Did the letter mysteriously disappear or did it never exist at all? Before you answer, watch Newsmax’s interview with retired Special Ops Maj. Rusty Bradley, who helped search for Bergdahl, below; the key bit comes at around 5:45. Like the Times’s source, he claims that a report issued within 24 hours of Bergdahl’s disappearance mentioned a note. (Actually, Bradley fits the basic description of the Times’s source. Is he their source?) The fog of war could, I guess, explain an early factual error, but … how would that error have been made, exactly? I would think that when a soldier first goes missing, the men around him would give him every benefit of the doubt in assuming there’s an innocent reason for his disappearance. He could have been injured or collapsed somewhere on base; he could have been captured by jihadis. He could be in terrible danger. If there are suspicions that early in the process that he disappeared for malignant reasons, I’d guess there’s probably a good reason.
But then, where’s the note? And why is the White House telling Congress it doesn’t exist?