U.S. Official: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Has Declined to Speak to His Family

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Doctors Moving Slowly on Treatment because of Swirling Controversy Over Prisoner Swap.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has declined to speak to his family after five years in captivity, according to a U.S. official familiar with matter, one sign of the difficult journey the 28-year-old soldier faces as he tries to reclaim a semblance of a normal life amid a raging debate over his capture and release.

Doctors treating Sgt. Bergdahl at a U.S. military hospital in Germany are moving slowly because of the controversy, which is complicating what would in any case be an arduous recovery. Sgt. Bergdahl has said that he was tortured during his captivity and thrown into a cage after a failed escape attempt, the U.S. official said.

Plans to celebrate Sgt. Bergdahl’s return were canceled because of threats made against his parents in Idaho, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents have declined to comment on the controversy over their son’s release.

Military officials have yet to ask Sgt. Bergdahl about his 2009 disappearance from his base in eastern Afghanistan, which led to his capture by the Taliban. Doing so could trigger legal questions about Sgt. Bergdahl’s actions that would compel the military to bring in legal experts to advise him about his rights, military officials said.

Republican critics of the deal that freed Sgt. Bergdahl are calling on the Army to court-martial him for desertion. “We know what he did,” former Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey told Fox News in urging the Defense Department to act swiftly to punish the soldier. “You can’t wait to try a case until you know absolutely everything about everything.”

Officials say it is too early to conclude that Sgt. Bergdahl deserted. His captivity could have been the result of misjudgment or incompetence.

For the moment, Sgt. Bergdahl is likely oblivious to the furor. U.S. officials said he has been largely shielded from media while recovering at the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. In another indication of his isolation, Sgt. Bergdahl doesn’t yet want to talk to his family on the phone, the official said. Pentagon officials say it isn’t uncommon for someone to wait a week to feel ready to speak with family members after years in captivity.

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