Sgt. Bergdahl's Idaho Hometown Cancels Celebration of Release - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Sgt. Bergdahl's Idaho Hometown Cancels Celebration of Release

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The small Idaho hometown of released captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has canceled plans for a celebration later this month, citing security concerns after the town was inundated with negative emails and angry phone calls.
 
Organizers released a statement Wednesday saying that because of national media attention on Bergdahl's story, they expect a significant increase in the number of people planning to attend the event -- some to protest, and some in support of the Bergdahl family. The organizers said that the town, with just 8,000 people, doesn't have the infrastructure to support a big event.
 
Large events are not uncommon in the region, however. In nearby Ketchum, just 12 miles to the north, about 32,000 people attend the town's Wagon Days celebration each year. 

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says it is unfair to the family of released captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to leap to conclusions about his behavior in uniform.
 
Hagel says, quote, "We don't do that in the United States." Hagel told reporters at a NATO defense ministers meeting Wednesday. "We rely on facts."
 
Hagel said the Army will review of all the circumstances surrounding how he left his unit and was captured by the Taliban, and added: "It's not my place as a former sergeant in the Army to decide who's worthy of being a sergeant and who isn't."
 
Bergdahl was released Saturday from five years' captivity by the Taliban in exchange for five top Taliban officials.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have released a video of the moment U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl was freed and turned over to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
In the 17-minute video, the Taliban describe the deal to swap Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees as a significant achievement for the insurgents.
 
As Bergdahl was about to be handed over to freedom, a member of the Taliban is heard telling him in Pashto, "Don't come back to Afghanistan."
 
And as other captors laughed, the man said, "You won't make it out alive next time."

And - the top Democrat in the Senate is accusing Republicans of trying to score political points with their criticism of President Obama over the swap.
 
Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday read aloud past statements from Senate Republicans who had said no member of the armed forces should be left behind. Reid criticized the senators for now denouncing the exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the five detainees.
 
Reid said questions regarding Bergdahl's disappearance should be addressed by the Army, not the "Monday morning quarterbacks" on Capitol Hill.
 
He said the alternative to the swap would have been to leave Bergdahl with the Taliban. He asserted that America is glad Bergdahl is free. (AP)

Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor on the safe return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
 
The late military historian John Keegan once said: “Soldiers, when committed to a task, can't compromise. It's unrelenting devotion to the standards of duty and courage, absolute loyalty to others, not letting the task go until it's been done.”

The integrity of American soldiers safeguards our democracy. Their devotion to duty, even in the face of difficult, trying circumstances, is what protects this nation. I’m thankful that the members of the U.S. Armed Forces do not compromise their honor. This past weekend, our military refused to abandon its duty, instead fulfilling its obligation to never leave a soldier behind. The release of American prisoner-of-war, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, was the culmination of heroic efforts by our military, our government, and our President. President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, acted honorably in helping an American soldier return home to his family. Sergeant Bergdahl’s release is an answer to many Americans’ prayers. I can’t imagine how relieved his parents and family must feel.


Unfortunately, opponents of President Obama have seized upon the release of an American prisoner of war, using what should be a moment of unity and celebration for our nation, as a chance to play political games. The safe return of an American soldier should not be used to score political points. When a man or woman puts on the uniform of a U.S. service member, they have America’s uncompromising support. Just a couple of weeks ago, the junior Senator from New Hampshire released a statement touting her diligence in calling upon the Department of Defense to, “do all it can to find Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and bring him home.” In April, Republican Senators McConnell and Toomey sponsored a resolution “to express the sense of the Senate that no member of the armed forces who is missing in action should be left behind.” Senator Inhofe even said that the U.S. “must make every effort to bring this captured soldier home to his family.”

President Obama and his team did just that – they made every effort and brought this young man home. Yet, these Senators are now denouncing those very same efforts that secured Sergeant Bergdahl’s release. It’s clear they’re worried his release could be seen as a victory for President Obama. Let me put that notion to rest – it’s not a victory for President Obama. It’s a victory for our soldiers, their families, and the United States of America. No member of the armed forces should be left behind, and President Obama saw to that.


I understand that there are questions regarding Sergeant Bergdahl’s disappearance, and whether or not military code was violated. Those are issues that will be resolved by the United States Army, not Monday morning quarterbacks on Capitol Hill. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Sergeant Bergdahl did violate his sworn oath. Who do we want to mete out justice to an American soldier? The Taliban? I will choose the justice system of the United States Army – American justice – every time. And whatever the results of the military’s inquiries are, it doesn’t change the fact that one more American soldier is home safe. What was the alternative? Would any American honestly prefer that a U.S. soldier remain in captivity until all of the questions have been answered? Of course not. In the United States of America, we rescue our soldiers first and ask questions later.

As Rear Admiral John F. Kirby said, “When you’re in the Navy, and you go overboard, it doesn’t matter if you were pushed, fell or jumped. We’re going to turn the ship around and pick you up.” I’m grateful for the many people who refused to forget about Sergeant Bergdahl, and worked tirelessly to secure his release. America is glad he’s home.

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