Confusion Said to Delay Return of Captive U.S. Soldier

Confusion Said to Delay Return of Captive U.S. Soldier
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Captors holding the United States’ only prisoner of war have indicated that they are ready to make a deal for his release -- but disorder and a complicated bureaucracy are hindering efforts to bring him home from Afghanistan. 

According to the Associated Press, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s Taliban captors “are unclear which U.S. government officials have the authority to make a deal. … Critics of the release effort blame disorganization and poor communication among the numerous federal agencies involved.” 

Some two dozen officials from a variety of defense, diplomatic, and intelligence agencies are working to return Bergdahl, who has been held since June 2009, to the United States. However, according to the AP, sources say that the talks are “marred by distrust on both sides.” 

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the AP, “The reason Sgt. Bergdahl remains a captive is because he is being held by a terrorist organization, not because of a lack of effort or coordination by the U.S. government.” 

But the government officials who spoke to the AP offered a different view, describing confusion between agencies over jurisdiction and leadership. They said that after a "proof of life" video surfaced in December, confusion arose over who should tell the Bergdahl family. 

“[The Obama administration] never explained anything to anybody about how it would be done,” said Sen. John McCain, a former POW who has monitored Bergdahl’s plight closely. “How can you get him back if you are totally disorganized?”

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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