Obama Administration Official: Bergdahl ‘Did Not Look Well’


With Republicans disputing the idea that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s declining health necessitated a swift rescue, a senior Obama administration official defended the rationale on Thursday.

The official cited a video that American intelligence officials received earlier this year that purportedly showed the POW in a woeful condition.

“Our judgment was that every day Sgt Bergdahl was a prisoner his life was at risk, and in the video we received in January, he did not look well,” the official said in a statement. “This led to an even greater sense of urgency in pursuing his recovery. We can’t disclose classified comments from a closed congressional briefing. However, we are able to say that the Senators were told, separate and apart from Sgt Bergdahl’s apparent deterioration in health, that we had both specific and general indications that Sgt Bergdahl ‘s recovery — and potentially his life — could be jeopardized if the detainee exchange proceedings were disclosed or derailed.”

Many Republicans have never bought it. Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a pitbull of a surrogate on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said Monday the “health issue” has echoes of the White House’s initial characterization of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.


Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.