Former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow, the team leader the night Bowe Bergdahl initially disappeared, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday that his team intercepted radio chatter indicated Bergdahl was seeking talks with the Taliban when he first walked away.
“Bergdahl is a deserter, and he’s not a hero,” Buetow said. “He needs to answer for what he did.”
In the days after Bergdahl’s disappearance, Buetow said teams looking for him intercepted radio chatter indicating he was in a village two miles away and was “looking for someone who speaks English so he can talk to the Taliban.”
“I heard it straight from the interpreter’s lips as he heard it over the radio,” Buetow said. “There’s a lot more to this story than a soldier walking away.”
The Obama administration in recent days has come under increasing fire for its decision to swap five Taliban-affiliated prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl. Fellow soldiers who served with Bergdahl have questioned whether he willingly deserted his unit, and they say at least six soldiers died in subsequent searches for him.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh said in a statement Tuesday there will be a “comprehensive, coordinated” review into the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s initial disappearance. He said that review would include speaking with Bergdahl.
A cable released by WikiLeaks described the frantic days after Bergdahl’s initial disappearance, including a report of him “talking and looking for someone who speaks English.” But Buetow’s allegation takes it further.
Buetow also described the night Bergdahl initially disappeared. He said Bergdahl was about start his shift as a guard, but a fellow soldier did not find him in his tent when he tried to wake him up. In his tent remained weapons, his bullet-proof vest, and night vision gear.
“I immediately knew, I said, ‘He walked away. He walked away,'” Buetow said.
The Obama administration has defended its decision to secure Bergdahl’s release from critics who say President Barack Obama broke the law by not consulting Congress. But Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said in a statement Tuesday the military would look into the circumstances of his departure.
Here’s the clip of Buetow on CNN:
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