Facebook posts reveal Bowe Bergdahl's frustration
In Facebook posts written before he vanished from his Afghan military base, US army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl spoke of his frustration with the world and his desire to change the status quo.
He criticised unnamed military commanders and government leaders and mused about whether it was the place of the artist, the soldier or the general to stop violence and "change the minds of fools".
In his personal writings, he seemed to focus his frustrations on himself and his struggle to maintain his mental stability.
The writings paint a portrait of a young man who was dealing with two conflicts - one fought with bullets and bombs outside his compound, the other fought within himself.
Bergdahl's Facebook page was found on Wednesday, and it was suspended by Facebook for a violation of its terms a short time later. Bergdahl opened the page under the name "Wandering Monk." His last post was made May 22, 2009, a few weeks before he was taken prisoner.
Bergdahl, the only U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan, was recently released after five years as a prisoner of the Taliban. In exchange, the US released five detainees from a detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The circumstances surrounding the swap and Bergdahl's capture in 2009 have raised a national debate, with Bergdahl's supporters and friends joyous at his rescue, and some members of Congress - and some of his own platoon - calling him a deserter.
Mary Robinson, a Facebook friend of Bergdahl, worked with him in a massage centre and tea house near his home when Bergdahl was in high school. Robinson said she didn't know why Bergdahl chose the Wandering Monk moniker.
"He was really, really grounded. He was curious. He wasn't one who was partying as some kids do," she said. "He was going over there with all the good intentions of serving his country."
About 21/2 weeks after his last Facebook post, Bergdahl sent a partially coded e-mail to friend Kim Harrison suggesting he had concerns about his privacy and couldn't share his plans.
Two weeks after the coded e-mail, Bergdahl vanished from his base. A box containing his journal, laptop computer and other items arrived at Harrison's home several days after that.
The writings she found were more disturbing than the ones on Facebook. "It's about my concern for Bowe and others and that's why I talked," she said. "I'm not talking anymore."
Bergdahl's journal appeared to detail his struggle to maintain his mental stability during basic training and his deployment to Afghanistan.
"I'm worried," he wrote in an entry before deployment. "The closer I get to ship day, the calmer the voices are. I'm reverting. I'm getting colder. My feelings are being flushed with the frozen logic and the training, all the unfeeling cold judgment of the darkness."
Later, he wrote, "I will not lose this mind, this world I have deep inside. I will not lose this passion of beauty."
Hagel defends deal secrecy
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel aggressively defended the secret prisoner exchange of five Taliban detainees for a captured US soldier, telling Congress that the risks were too great and the situation too uncertain for the administration to tell lawmakers about the plan.
At a congressional hearing, House members accused Hagel and the White House of not trusting them enough to follow the law and fill them in on the decision to exchange Bowe Bergdahl for five detainees at the US facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Hagel said the deal provided "the best possibility that we had to get him out, and we were concerned we might lose it".
He said officials discussed the law requiring that Congress get a 30-day notice of detainee exchanges but said the Justice Department told them that in such extreme circumstances President Barack Obama had the constitutional authority to forego the notice. The Justice Department declined to comment on advice it gave the White House.