Bowe Berghdahl, the United States Army soldier who deserted and was then captured and held by the Taliban for five years, is the subject of Serial: Season 2, an immensely popular podcast.
Whereas Season 1 of Serial investigated Adnan Syed and a murder that no one had heard of before, Season 2 looks to get to the bottom of a story that everyone thinks they know.
Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial, is joined in Season 2 by filmmaker Mark Boal and Page 1 as they try and tell the full story of what exactly happened and why Bowe decided to leave his post and walk into the dangerous deserts of Afghanistan. Season 2 of Serial is the first time that Bowe’s story has ever been told since he was first charged by the US Army.
Those charges against Bowe Berghdahl include one count of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty” and one count of “misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place.”
Here’s Serial‘s very own introduction to the story:
In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.
President Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier’s parents at his side. Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him back. But then, within days—within hours of his rescue, in fact—public reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked off their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory.
Easily most controversial part about the entire story is that Berghdal was traded for “The Taliban Five,” high-ranking Taliban officials and strategists. Their names are Mohammad Fazl (army chief of staff), Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence), Abdul Haq Wasiq (former Taliban interior minister), Norullah Noori (senior Taliban figure), and Mohammad Nabi Omari (senior Taliban figure).
Many of Bowe’s peers and fellow soldiers have openly condemned the prisoner exchange, explaining that not only was Bowe’s disappearance his own fault, the Army private caused the death of six of his servicemen (this hasn’t been confirmed by The Pentagon, which investigated the possibility).
The combination of five years of torture and the less-than-positive welcome Bowe received when he came back home have definitely taken a toll on his physical and mental health.
That being said, we’re very excited to see the new information that Sarah and the rest of the Serial crew dig up from Bowe’s own recollection of what happened to him.