Fox News is reporting that a company that contracted with the Army to deliver intelligence monitored POW Bowe Bergdahl from the early days of his captivity until 2012.
During that time, the contractor — an outfit known as the Eclipse Group — says that after resisting for a while, Bergdahl eventually converted to Islam and declared himself “a warrior for God.”
The reports indicate that Bergdahl’s relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, “he became much more of an accepted fellow” than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.
The documents show that Bergdahl at one point escaped his captors for five days and was kept, upon his re-capture, in a metal cage, like an animal. In addition, the reports detail discussions of prisoner swaps and other attempts at a negotiated resolution to the case that appear to have commenced as early as the fall of 2009.
The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail — including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native — and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl’s life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe.
The group is run by Duane R. (“Dewey”) Clarridge, a former senior operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980s best known for having been indicted for lying to Congress about his role in the tangled set of events that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. He was pardoned by the first President Bush in December 1992 while on trial. A New York Times profile of Clarridge published in January 2011 disclosed the contractual relationship Eclipse had with the Pentagon, through subcontractors, and reported further that Clarridge’s activities had included efforts to help find Bergdahl.
Clarridge told Fox News his group enjoyed a subcontract from U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, from November 2009 through May 31, 2010, and that after the contract was terminated, he invested some $50,000 of his own money to maintain the network of informants that had yielded such detailed accounts of Bergdahl’s status.
Allahpundit asks: if this is true, where’s the propaganda video from the Taliban?
Obvious question: How can you prove that a “conversion” like this is sincere and not given under extreme duress? Remember, one of Fox News’s own employees was taken prisoner by jihadis a few years ago and fake-converted to Islam to save his own life. Sounds like Bergdahl resisted at first, even to the point of trying to escape (a claim corroborated by the Daily Beast), and then was gradually broken as his captivity endured. Rosen himself raises the possibility of “Stockholm Syndrome” in the story.
Gen. James Mattis, the former head of CENTCOM, says he may have received “bits and pieces” of Eclipse’s intelligence over the years but not any of their situation reports. He said he never saw any evidence that Bergdahl was a collaborator, though. Quote: “We had tactical units that were involved in the fight. We had SIGINT. Any collaborators who were on the other side and who came over to our side. We kept an eye on this. … There was never any evidence of collaboration.” Among the missing evidence is the propaganda video the Taliban normally could have and would have forced Bergdahl to make if it had an American soldier in its midst willing to declare jihad. Emphasis on “normally,” though: In Bergdahl’s case, since they were looking to swap him for Taliban prisoners from the very beginning, they may have decided to pass on the conversion video for fear that the U.S. wouldn’t make a deal for him once it went live.
Allah speculates that the reason there is no video is that the Taliban may have believed advertising Bergdahl’s conversion would have lowered his stock considerably and they wouldn’t have been able to get the deal they eventually got. It raises an intriguing question: at what point might the Taliban release a video trumpeting Bergdahl’s conversion?
But even given Bergdahl’s politics, I’m not buying a true conversion — at least not until we hear from him. The question that must be asked is: would he have converted if he wasn’t in the midst of people who could kill him at any moment? Stockholm Syndrome is real. Just ask Fox News reporter Steve Centanni, who converted to Islam to save his life while being held by Hamas.
What about the Eclipse Group and Dewey Clarridge? How much credibility do they have? CENTCOM did not renew his contract after 2010, but there may be many reasons for that. Clarridge took these reports to Fox News hoping to horn in on the PR from the Bergdahl affair — perhaps to drum up a little business? How much stock should we put in reports generated by an organization being run by a liar? Not saying that the reports are false or exaggerated, just that these are questions that anyone would want answered before we accept these facts as truth.
Finally, both CENTCOM commanders during the time in question deny receiving any SITREPS from Clarridge’s group:
Reached by telephone, retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, a 45-year service veteran who served as CENTCOM commander from August 2010 to August 2012, told Fox News he may have received bits and pieces of the intelligence generated by Eclipse, but said Ashley, with whom he maintained a close working relationship, had not forwarded on to him the specific SITREPs cited by Fox News
Were the reports from Clarridge taken seriously by the brass? It doesn’t appear so.
If these revelations about Bergdahl are true, it’s even worse for President Obama than previously imagined.