Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was in a private briefing Wednesday and saw the so-called “proof of life” video of the American soldier who was held prisoner by the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years. The video reportedly only ran about 90 seconds and depicted Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl looking very lethargic.
Harkin says he couldn’t determine whether Bergdahl was in poor health. “I saw the videos and it’s hard to tell,” Harkin says. “Some people say he may’ve been drugged. We just don’t know. We won’t know until after he goes through all of his physicals and everything like that.”
Harkin says the Obama Administration’s Senate-members-only briefing was too brief and left him wanting more answers. “I found it lacking in many regards and I still have some questions which I intend to ask, not in public, but in a private, secret briefing,” Harkin says. “I need some more information that is not public but I intend to follow up on that.”
Harkin, a Democrat, refused to say if he thought President Obama did anything illegal in negotiating for Bergdahl’s release in exchange for five Taliban leaders from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, says it’s clear — the president broke the law. Harkin was asked if he thought the swap of one U.S. soldier for five Taliban leaders was a fair trade. “There’s still a lot to be determined,” Harkin says. “There’s something about this whole deal that, to me, still doesn’t smell right. There’s something about this that’s kind of odd. I think there’s maybe something about Mr. Bergdahl that we just don’t know. Maybe that will come out, maybe not. I don’t know.”
The circumstances are still unclear about how Bergdahl was captured, and some call him a deserter as the then-23-year-old allegedly walked off post without authorization. Bergdahl’s hometown in Idaho has canceled its planned celebration of his release. City leaders cite negative e-mails and angry phone calls as the reason.