The Spectacle Blog

Why Did Bergdahl’s Fellow Soldiers Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements?

By on 6.5.14 | 2:10PM

This morning at the Washington Examiner, Byron York reports that many of the soldiers in Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon were ordered to sign non-disclosure agreements after Bergdahl left his base in the middle of the night. In these agreements, the men were told not to discuss with anyone the efforts made to rescue Bergdahl.

Since the president ordered the transfer of five Guantanamo Bay Taliban prisoners from incarceration to one year of monitoring in Qatar, soldiers who were stationed with him in his outpost that night have come forward criticizing the exchange. The platoon medic, John Cornelison, in an interview with York, talked about signing the agreement:

In those times at Sharana, we were approached by the commander and people in CID [the Army Criminal Investigation Command], and they wanted us to sign documents basically saying that we wouldn't talk about Bergdahl's disappearance…

He goes on to say:

Basically, they would hand you the piece of paper and say if you sign this, you are agreeing not to talk to any media or any people back home about the circumstances regarding Bergdahl's disappearance. It said that you guys are not allowed to talk to anyone about this. Most of us signed it and went on. I signed it just so I could go on.

The act of signing these over desertion is extremely unusual. Historically tens of thousands of American soldiers have deserted, yet their brothers in arms still talked about it. Cornelison, and many others, despite signing these agreements, have come forward. As to his agreement and to why he violated it, Cornelison said:

I don't know if we're going to be approached by the Department of Defense or the State Department or the Army saying, hey, five years ago you said you weren't going to talk about it. That's not important to me now. Right now, the important thing is to get the truth out there about Bowe Bergdahl.

While the Defense Department has not come down on them for speaking out, with the long and punitive history of this administration, perhaps there will be repercussions.

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