GOP Strategists Arranged Interviews With Angry Members Of Bergdahl’s Platoon

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Republican operatives apparently believe there’s something to be gained by painting Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a deserter.

The New York Times ran one of the manifold articles Monday focused on resentment toward Bergdahl among some of the soldiers in his unit, and the paper disclosed the interviews were arranged by GOP strategists.

Republicans and conservatives have questioned the legal and national security implications of the prisoner swap that led to Bergdahl’s release. But they have also scrutinized the POW over his 2009 disappearance and his stated objections to the military’s actions. Some on the right have even gone after Bergdahl’s father, Bob.

The Times received comment from two former members of Bergdahl’s platoon who said the soldier was a deserter who should be court-martialed.

An Army medic said he still has ill-will toward Bergdahl over the manhunt that followed his disappearance.

“Yes, I’m angry,” Joshua Cornelison, a former medic in Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday arranged by Republican strategists. “Everything that we did in those days was to advance the search for Bergdahl. If we were doing some mission and there was a reliable report that Bergdahl was somewhere, our orders were that we were to quit that mission and follow that report.”

Another member of Bergdahl’s platoon said the soldier who was held captive in Afghanistan for five years didn’t fit in.

Platoon members said Sergeant Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was known as bookish and filled with romantic notions that some found odd.
“He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,” Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.”

Buzzfeed reported Tuesday morning that the interviews were set up by Richard Grenell, a former Bush administration aide who joined and then left Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign over complaints from social conservatives that he was openly gay.

In a tweet on Monday, Full thanked Grenell for “helping get our platoon’s story out.” Grenell responded by calling Full a “True American Hero.”

Grenell’s partner at Capitol Media Partners, Brad Chase, confirmed to Buzzfeed that the firm did indeed help set up the interviews. Along with the Times, Full and Cornelison also did interviews with The Weekly Standard, the Daily Mail, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News.

Chase disputed the notion that the interviews were arranged by “Republican strategists.” Pointing out that he is a Democrat, Chase called the characterization “100% inaccurate.” However, a producer for for the Michael Berry Show, a radio program that booked one of the soldiers, told Buzzfeed that Grenell was the primary point of contact for the interview.

Grenell called out the Times on Twitter and said the newspaper won’t return his calls.

Full also criticized the Times.

As Gawker pointed out, Full is an unabashed conservative, using his Twitter account in the past to criticize a “libtard” and mock those who advocate a minimum wage hike.

Full and Cornelison weren’t the only soldiers to speak out on Monday.

Nathan Bradley Bethea, who said he served in Bergdahl’s unit, wrote a scathing piece for the Daily Beast in which he called the POW a “deserter” and said his fellow “soldiers died trying to track him down.”

h/t Igor Bobic

This post has been updated.

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