Fox News is ready to unfurl the mission accomplished banner on its coverage of the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange, now that it has a report sourced to a private intelligence firm that, among other things, claimed Bergdahl kind of looked and acted like a jihadist during his long captivity. Based what Fox News says is a purported eyewitness account of Bergdahl's captivity, James Rosen reports that it included times when he was much more "accepted" by his captors than one would assume, and appeared to convert to Islam. On the other hand, he was also caged "like an animal" after an escape attempt in 2010.
The intelligence comes from a private company owned by Duane Clarridge, a former CIA agent best known for his indictment for lying during the Iran-Contra scandal (he was later pardoned). In 2011, the New York Times described the intelligence dispatches from Clarridge's Eclipse Group as "an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports." Occasionally, however, those reports have helped military officials. Mainly, they show up in the work of conservative theorists from Oliver North on down.
The reports span from October 2009 to August 2012. Here's an excerpt from one of those reports, which will surely be the one focused on by Bergdahl truthers:
Conditions for Bergdahl have greatly relaxed since the time of the escape. Bergdahl has converted to Islam and now describes himself as a mujahid. Bergdahl enjoys a modicum of freedom, and engages in target practice with the local mujahedeen, firing AK47s. Bergdahl is even allowed to carry a loaded gun on occasion. Bergdahl plays soccer with his guards and bounds around the pitch like a mad man. He appears to be well and happy, and has a noticeable habit of laughing frequently and saying 'Salaam' repeatedly.
The source is someone close to a Haqqani commander tasked with overseeing Bergdahl's captivity, but as Rosen writes, his "trustworthiness had not been fully vetted by the group." There is no evidence that Bergdahl's conversion was genuine, as opposed to coerced or the result of Stockholm Syndrome, as Rosen also notes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.