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Report: Bergdahl's platoon mates seek book, movie deal

Aug. 13, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl prepares to be interviewed by Army investigators. The Army began questioning Bergdahl about his disappearance in Afghanistan that led to five years in captivity by the Taliban, his attorney and an Army spokeswoman said Aug. 6.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl prepares to be interviewed by Army investigators. The Army began questioning Bergdahl about his disappearance in Afghanistan that led to five years in captivity by the Taliban, his attorney and an Army spokeswoman said Aug. 6. (Eugene R. Fidell / AP)
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Six former platoon mates of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who spent nearly five years as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan, are shopping proposals for a book and movie that is sharply critical of him, Yahoo News is reporting.

Bergdahl is now being questioned by the Army concerning the mysterious circumstances surrounding his capture in 2009. The Army is trying to determine whether he merely wandered too far from base or should be charged with desertion.

A draft of the book proposal, obtained by Yahoo News, asserts that Bergdahl was a “premeditated” deserter who “put all of our lives in danger.”

Bergdahl’s former colleagues describe him as a “loner” who sometimes was gung-ho about fighting the Taliban. But shortly before his disappearance, the soldiers write, Bergdahl started “to talk about what it would be like to just get lost in the mountains surrounding the outpost.” He also began studying the local languages and mailed his laptop, photos and other personal items home.

When Bergdahl disappeared, the platoon frantically searched for him, chasing fragments of intelligence that included reports that a “strange white man” matching Bergdahl’s description had been seen “crawling in the reeds” just outside the base.

But the controversy over Bergdahl’s release — he was swapped May 31 for five Taliban prisoners held at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — is reportedly complicating the book’s chances at publication. At least one publisher raised concerns that the book would give ammunition to conservative critics of the Obama adminstration.

In an email to one of the soldiers’ agents, Sarah Durand, an editor at a division of Simon & Schuster, compared the book to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam service during the 2004 presidential campaign, Yahoo News reported.

In interviews, two of the soldiers told Yahoo News they just wanted to set the record straight on Bergdahl.

“There was no way we were going to sit down and be quiet while (President) Obama was calling him a war hero,” Evan Buetow, Bergdahl’s former team leader, told Yahoo News. “We’re just trying to tell the truth. It’s not my fault this would make Obama look bad.”

Buetow and Cody Full, Bergdahl’s former roommate, told Yahoo News they were recently questioned in the Army’s investigation into Bergdahl — a fact that could be another problem for the book-movie project, Yahoo News reported.

The soldiers’ Hollywood agent, Bettina Sofia Viviano, told Yahoo News she is pitching the proposal to studios as an “action-adventure in the vein of ‘Lone Survivor’ or ‘Saving Private Ryan.’”

Bergdahl was assigned to regular duty at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in July after several weeks of therapy and counseling at an Army hospital in San Antonio.

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