Robert Young Pelton: Finding Bergdahl — A Tale of Deceit

Corruption, Cultural Intelligence, Government, Ineptitude, Military
Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton

Finding Bergdahl

Inside the Search for the Last Prisoner of America's Longest War

VICE, 21 July 2014


The next intercepts from the elated kidnappers, using their CDMA or RUIM phone while still inside the vehicle, provided the first real piece of evidence on how Bergdahl was grabbed: “We were attacking the post. He was just taking a shit. He had no gun with him. He was taking a shit. He has not cleaned his butt yet.”

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In the weeks that have followed Bergdahl’s release on May 31, 2014, some have claimed that American soldiers died looking for Bergdahl. That statement is hard to square up with the dates and missions related to the incident. Bergdahl was most likely inside Pakistan within the first day, and had absolutely crossed the border by mid August 2009, at the latest.

. . . . . . .

More disturbingly, back in 2009, toward the end of the first week of July when my team was told to stop looking for Bergdahl, a strange of cross section of contractors, misfits, and pariahs entered the search for him.

Read full article (part one).

Finding Bergdahl – Part 2


The problem, both in Afghanistan and in regard to Bergdahl’s capture, was not the lack of information but rather the oversaturation of bad information. If you were on the ground in the tribal areas, you didn’t need to be a spy to figure out where Bowe Bergdahl was or who was holding him. “The American” was the topic of teahouse chatter from Miranshah to Kabul. For some reason, certain elements within the American military refused to acknowledge this truth and continued their “search” for the missing private long after my team was told to back off our search after locating Bergdahl’s probable whereabouts.

. . . . . . .

Still, my team was kept busy putting out fires we didn’t start in the west, south, and north, such as when Special Operations called in airstrikes that could have killed dozens of our civilian contacts—people who would have otherwise potentially been on the scene providing direct connections and insight to the US command. Their intelligence could have perhaps helped tamp down the violence.

. . . . . .

Long retired, Clarridge worked out of his aging bungalow in bucolic suburb of Escondido, north of San Diego, California. He would cobble together a team . . . . .

. . . . . . .

The [Clarridge] information operations atmospheric designed for “force protection” ranged from insightful to pedantic to ludicrous.

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It should be made clear that the US military in Afghanistan desperately needed information it wasn’t getting. Major General Michael Flynn, the head of intel in Afghanistan, suggested in a major think-tank report that the military “retrieve information from the ground level and make it available to a broader audience, similar to the way journalists work. These analysts must leave their chairs,” he believed, “and visit the people who operate at the grassroots level.” Which was exactly what we were doing and want they wanted us to do.

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On January 22, the New York Times writer Mark Mazzetti ran a third article on Clarridge, finally knocking the former spook and International Media Networks out of the game. With the Eclipse Group no longer providing tips, the Haqqanis’ attacks on Kabul began to increase. The man who brought Clarridge into the game, Furlong, was put under investigation for contract fraud and went on to resign in July 2011 with no charges filed. On September 2, 2011, the US filed charges against Michael L. Taylor, the owner of AISC and the man the New York Times ended up hiring to find Rohde. He was under investigation for fraud with his $54 million training contract in Afghanistan.  The media and legal assaults on those who kept tabs on Bergdahl and the Haqqanis were effective.

Read full article (part two).

Phi Beta Iota: This is a riveting article in two parts that offers multiple insights to include a) superiority of RYP's network of informants to anything CIA or the military could put together, with trust being a factor; b) military's early violation of trust with the Taliban that cost it dearly over time; c) poor morale and leadership across many US units; d) stellar air breather SIGINT when people are dumb enough to actually keep their cell phones active; and finally –e) the lies the US Government tells when it either does not actually know, or wants to invent its own reality.

See Also:

Robert Young Pelton @ Phi Beta Iota

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