“The Haqqanis could give a rat’s ass about prisoners,” the official said, referring to the Haqqani Network, a designated terrorist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were freed in exchange for Bergdahl’s release.

“The people that are holding Bergdahl want[ed] cash and someone paid it to them,” he said.

The theory relies in large measure on a distinction that has been lost in much of the press coverage of the Berdahl deal. A number of news reports on the circumstances surrounding the prisoner exchange have used “Haqqani” and “Taliban” interchangeably.

Experts say that obscures very real differences between the two groups that are key to understanding the deal that freed Bergdahl.