Sooner or later, mistrust of government can lead some Americans to some untenable and absurd positions.
Statements coming from the White House, the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community can never be taken at face value. I have no problem with that kind of skepticism. After all, officials all have political and institutional interests that they endeavor to protect; decisions are often made in haste; people with great power can be badly informed, short-sighted, and petty.
But in the growing hysteria surrounding the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the latest “bombshell” being devoured by those who never waver in their conviction that the government always lies, comes from a private spying outfit run by Duane R. (“Dewey”) Clarridge, a former CIA senior operations officer, who was on trial on seven counts of perjury and false statements in Iran-Contra before being pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.
“EXCLUSIVE: Bergdahl declared jihad in captivity, secret documents show,” shouts the headline at Fox News in a story based on claims coming from Clarridge’s firm, the Eclipse Group.
Amidst the voluminous praise that Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald have received for revealing the inner workings of the NSA, perhaps the most negative impact resulting from this is the fact that nowadays most people seem to think that secrets are concealed truths.
In reality, secrets are very often rumors, pieces of speculation, or information whose factual basis or significance has yet to be verified.
The findings made by Eclipse were no doubt recorded in secret documents, but at this point, it’s anyone’s guess how much truth those reports reveal.
The documents obtained by Fox News show that Eclipse developed and transmitted numerous status reports on the whereabouts of the errant American soldier, spanning a period from October 2009, roughly three months after Bergdahl reportedly walked off his base in Afghanistan and fell into custody of the Haqqani network, up through August 2012.
At one point — in late June 2010, after Bergdahl succeeded in one of his escape attempts — the Haqqani commanders constructed a special metal cage for him, and confined him to it. At other points, however, Bergdahl was reported to be happily playing soccer with the Haqqani fighters, taking part in AK-47 target practice and being permitted to carry a firearm of his own, laughing frequently and proclaiming “Salaam,” the Arabic word for “peace.”
Who knows whether this information came from reliable sources or whether Eclipse may at times have become entangled in some Haqqani psyops operations that purposefully wanted to feed the U.S. conflicting pictures of Bergdahl’s intentions and the conditions of his captivity.
The CIA once prized Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi as one of its most valuable informants — until, that is, he conducted a suicide attack on Camp Chapman in 2009.
“Personally I would like to be able to talk to the guy and ask him why did this,” says former Army Spc. Gerald Sutton, who served in Afghanistan with Bergdahl.
This is Bergdahl’s story and hopefully some day we’ll hear it from his own lips. In the meantime, the media will milk it for all its worth.