The Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal describe this as a “propaganda video,” but other than the oddly high-quality singing (presumably in Pashto) in the final half of the clip, there doesn’t seem to be anything on this that has much value as propaganda at this stage. The video shows a dazed-looking Bowe Berghdal getting instructions while sitting in a pickup, and then waiting to be handed over to US forces that arrive by helicopter as the singing begins in the background. It’s not much more than a home movie with better-than-average production values:
The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday released a propaganda video showing the handover of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years, to U.S. Special Operations Forces in a remote part of eastern Khost province.
The video, posted on a Taliban website, shows Sgt. Bergdahl with a shaved head and no eyebrows. He is wearing Afghan clothing, looking gaunt and dazed, rapidly blinking his eyes.
In the footage, Sgt. Bergdahl sits in a white Taliban pickup truck in an open field, as a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter prepares to land. …
In the video, an Afghan insurgent, his face hidden by a scarf, tells Sgt. Bergdahl menacingly in Pashto moments before the release: “Don’t come back to Afghanistan. Next time we catch you, you won’t leave here alive.” Armed insurgents surrounding the pickup truck laugh as Sgt. Bergdahl bows his head, looking confused and scared.
The US has not certified the video as authentic, but told the media that they have no reason to doubt its authenticity, either. The Taliban fighters complain afterward (apparently in a longer version) that the Americans didn’t stick around to chat a bit and let them say goodbye to Bergdahl, which … is apparently a propaganda coup of some sort. If the translation is correct, Bergdahl got the all the goodbye he needed in the pickup truck anyway.
The value of this as propaganda at all seems elusive. The real propaganda win was the release of the five Taliban figures from Guantanamo Bay, not the handover of Bergdahl back to the US. Actually, that’s not even the full truth. The big propaganda coup will be every time those five get interviewed by media outlets from their cushy exile in Qatar to discuss their Gitmo experience and scoff at US efforts to keep them from the fight. The Bergdahl release is just a sideshow.