No Comment — July 20, 2009, 9:20 am

A Prisoner in Afghanistan

The Pentagon has identified the U.S. soldier recently seized by the Taliban and presented in a video as Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, 23, from Ketchum, Idaho. In the video, Bergdahl says he was captured by the Taliban when he straggled behind his Alaska-based unit. A U.S. military spokesman, Colonel Greg Julian, responds: “We condemn the use of this video and the public humiliation of prisoners. It is against international law. We are doing everything we can to return this soldier to safety.” That’s absolutely correct. Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention protects prisoners against “violence and intimidation” as well as “insults” and exposure to “public curiosity.” Taking a prisoner and then taking photographs or film footage of the prisoner for purposes of harassing or demoralizing him or his fellow soldiers is a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. This tape appears clearly contrived for just that purpose. It should therefore be viewed as documenting the criminal misconduct of Bergdahl’s captors, and little else.

It was likewise a violation of the Geneva Conventions when, in May 2005, photographs circulated in U.S. and British papers of an underwear-clad Saddam Hussein washing his laundry. The Rumsfeld Pentagon feigned anger over their release and claimed to have undertaken an investigation. However, the move matched perfectly psy-ops plans to use Saddam’s image as well as that of his two deceased children to damage the morale of Baathist “dead-enders.” Moreover, the photographs appeared in Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, renowned for their “special access” to the Rumsfeld Pentagon. The Murdoch papers claimed to have gotten them from a “Pentagon official.” Such episodes pull the carpet out from under the United States when it tries to press the rights of captured soldiers like Pvt. Bergdahl.

Hopefully Bergdahl will soon be released and find his way back to his unit. But over at the “fair and balanced” channel we hear a voice that wishes this young soldier ill. On Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, “strategic analyst” Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, while cautioning that he doesn’t know all the facts, goes on nonetheless to accuse Bergdahl of being a deserter and of cooperating with the enemy by making the video. “If he walked away… the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills,” Peters says, appearing to suggest that they should execute him. This is the “support our troops” channel? Watch the entire clip here.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2016

Held Back

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Division Street

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Innocents

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quiet Car

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Psychedelic Trap

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Hamilton Cult

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Hamilton Cult·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The past is complicated, and explaining it is not just a trick, but a gamble."
Illustration by Jimmy Turrell
Article
Division Street·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Perfectly sane people lose access to housing every day, though the resultant ordeal may undermine some of that sanity, as it might yours and mine."
Photograph © Robert Gumpert
Article
Held Back·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"'We don’t know where the money went!' a woman cried out. 'They looted it! They stole our money!'"
Artwork by Mischelle Moy
Article
The Quiet Car·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.

Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.

Photograph by Joshua Lutz
Article
Innocents·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion."
Photograph © Nadia Shira Cohen

Average duration of a Japanese prime minister’s tenure since August 1993, in months:

16

Brain shrinkage has no effect on cognition.

An Indianapolis fertility doctor was accused of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate patients, and a Delaware man pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his former psychiatrist.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today