Friday, January 31, 2014

Intelligence community says Bergdahl a top priority

Soldier’s family visits the White House

Express Staff Writer

     Returning captured Blaine County soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to his family is a top priority, said top U.S. intelligence officials in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

     Idaho Sen. Jim Risch questioned several members of the U.S. intelligence community on Capitol Hill during a Senate Select Committee hearing on current and projected national security threats against the United States.

     Present at the hearing were Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and Matt Olson, the director of the National Counter Terrorism Center.

     Bergdahl grew up in the Wood River Valley. He has been a captive of the Taliban for nearly five years and been the subject of proposed peace talks with the opposition in the 12-year Afghanistan war.

     “Without getting into the classified material or saying something unintentionally that would impact his safety, I think we’d go a long way toward having his family have some peace if you would reiterate publicly what you have shared with me privately, about what a high area of concern this is for the United States government, to return Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to us personally,” Risch said to the officials.

     Lt. Gen. Flynn said there was an “absolute commitment” from the intelligence community and the Department of Defense to find Bergdahl.

     “Twenty four hours a day and seven days a week there are dedicated resources to bring him home safe and sound,” Flynn said.

     “While I was at the White House, I had the honor of meeting with the Bergdhal family and it was a moving experience,” said CIA Director Brennan. “I told them then that I would do everything possible to bring their son home safely. He is somebody who was on the front lines keeping this country safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and with Sgt. Bergdahl.”

     “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts in that regard,” Risch said.

     A video obtained by the U.S. military earlier this month ago indicates that Bergdahl was alive in December.

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