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Taliban Video Shows Bowe Bergdahl's Release

Wednesday, June 04, 2014
New video released by the Taliban reportedly shows Bowe Bergdahl during Saturday's handover in Afghanistan.

The Army Sergeant - he's been in captivity since 2009 - is seen sitting in a pickup truck, surrounded by armed guards in the foothills, his head bald. He blinks heavily, rubbing his eyes.

Helicopters circle, one of them landing. Dust kicks up.

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Two guards, one holding a white flag, walk Bergdahl to a central area where the Taliban and U.S. groups meet. The men exchange handshakes and waves as Bergdahl is patted down and walked to the helicopter, returned to U.S. control after five years in captivity.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told ABC News that U.S. officials are aware of the video.

"We have no reason to doubt the video's authenticity, but we are reviewing it. Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs," Kirby said in a statement.

The exchange is now drawing criticism and objections. As Bergdahl continues to recover following his release, the U.S. Army is preparing to re-open an investigation into his 2009 "capture." His former Army roommate Cody Full says Bergdahl was a deserter who walked willingly into the arms of the Taliban.

"He was not captured," Full said. "He was not forcefully taken off the base. He left by his own accord."

Others describe Bergdahl as an idealistic young man, an athletic ballet dancer who embraced different cultures and perspectives.

"The Bowe I knew wasn't a quitter," said Sherry Horton, a former roommate and instructor in Idaho. "He was a wonderful partner. All the girls loved dancing with him because he was so strong and steady."

A senior defense official says there is plenty of evidence to show that Bergdahl left the base willingly, including a note he wrote about his disillusionment with the war. Several soldiers who served with Bergdahl said he may have previously left the base unaccompanied before his disappearance.

Officials need Bergdahl's side of the story.

Outrage continues to boil over the release of the five high-level Taliban members in exchange for Bergdahl. Sen. John McCain called the move "a mistake."

"These are wanted war criminals," McCain said.

A Qatari official says the deal did not include a 30-day notice to Congress, despite promises made last year. The White House was forced to call several members of Congress Tuesday to apologize for not telling them about the deal.

"It comes with some surprise and dismay that the transfers went ahead with no consultation, totally not following the law," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The White House's decision was influenced by a video of Bergdahl released by the Taliban this year, and only seen by the U.S. government. An official tells ABC News that the once fresh-faced soldier was clearly becoming frail and disengaged, making the need to recover him more urgent.

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