Bowe Bergdahl Parents Get Four Death Threats, FBI ‘Taking Each Seriously’

The parents of freed American POW Bowe Bergdahl have received four emailed death threats, and the FBI says that it is “taking each threat seriously.” The emails arrived amidst a media firestorm in which the soldier who was held prisoner by a Taliban-affiliated Afghan insurgent cell for five years has been branded a “deserter” and a “traitor.”

“There were four specific emails with death threats given to the FBI and they are looking into it,” said Jeff Gunter, police chief in Hailey, Idaho, where the Bergdahls live.

“We are working jointly with our state and local partners and taking each threat seriously,” said FBI Special Agent William Facer, who would not divulge details of the death threats against Bob Bergdahl and Jani Larson, parents of Bowe Bergdahl.

The Bergdahls are reportedly under official protection, due to the “serious” nature of the death threats against them. These emails were likely fueled by inflammatory media reports that cast suspicion on the circumstances of Bowe Bergdahl’s capture by Afghan insurgents in 2009, and implied that his father is anti-American.

While it appears that Bergdahl left his post without authorization the night he disappeared and fell into Taliban hands in June 2009, there has been no confirmation that he deserted his unit. He had wandered off on two prior occasions — once in Afghanistan and once during training exercises in California — but returned both times.

To qualify as desertion, a soldier must leave his post with no intention of returning. But a classified Army investigation, revealed by WikiLeaks and reported in The New York Times, blames poor discipline and lackadaisical security practices in Bergdahl’s unit for the soldier’s unauthorized departure, but does not conclude that Bergdahl deserted.

Incendiary reports that six — or by some accounts eight — soldiers died in the search for Bergdahl are also backed only by “murky” evidence, according to other leaked documents reported by The New York Times.

The eight deaths of soldiers between June and September of 2009 in an area that had been a hotbed of insurgent activity were three more than occurred in the same region the previous year. Two of the soldiers died in June while inside the confines of a US military outpost that came under insurgent attack.

The most intensive search for Bergdahl concluded on July 8, 2009, according to the documents. The other six soldiers were killed after that date. While the documents contain sketchy details, they do not connect the deaths of those soldiers to the search for Bowe Bergdahl, according to the Times account. The paper also quoted a senior military official saying that to blame the soldier’s deaths “100 percent” on the search for Bergdahl would be “ludicrous,” because the soldiers would have been engaged in risky operations in the dangerous region regardless.

“Look, it’s not like these soldiers would have been sitting around their base,” he told the Times.

Bob Bergdahl has come under fire from conservative TV personalities for growing a lengthy beard, similar to those worn by the personalities on the TV show Duck Dynasty, and for learning the Pashto language, spoken by Taliban members.

But Phil Proctor, former pastor of a Boise, Idaho Presbyterian church attended by the Bergdahls, says that Bob Bergdahl learned the language because during the lengthy period when it appeared that the US government was doing nothing to win his son’s release, he anticipated that he would attempt to negotiate on his own. The lengthy beard was grown by Bob Bergdahl to mark the time that his son Bowe had been missing.