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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Describes Brutal Conditions of His 5-Year Captivity

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Describes Brutal Conditions of His 5-Year Captivity

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For the first time, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has described in his own words the brutal conditions he endured as a Taliban prisoner for five years, a time during which he said he was kept in constant isolation. Bergdahl also claims he attempted to escape about a dozen times, including once when he was able to evade his captors for nine days before being recaptured.Bergdahl walked away from his unit's outpost in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009 and was held captive by the Taliban until last May, when his freedom was secured in a controversial prisoner swap for five former Taliban leaders being detained at Guantanamo.On Wednesday the Army charged Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy; he could face life in prison for the latter charge.Bergdahl’s account of his captivity was included in a statement provided to reporters by his attorney Eugene Fidell, who told ABC News it details “the really atrocious conditions in which he was held” and the worsening treatment after his escape attempts. “I think those are important facts that decision makers will take into account when they figure out how this case should be disposed of,” said Fidell.“I was kept in constant isolation during the entire five years, with little to no understanding of time, through periods of constant darkness, periods of constant light, and periods of completely random flickering of light, and absolutely no understanding of anything that was happening behind the door I was held behind," wrote Bergdahl in the single-spaced, two-page statement.He said that in the first three months of his captivity after his two escape attempts, “I was chained to a bed spread-eagle and blindfolded.” He remained constantly blindfolded except for the few times a day when he was allowed to eat and use the latrine.As his muscles atrophied and it became difficult for him to walk, his captors allowed him to sit chained on the bed. He eventually developed open wounds on his ankles “that looked like the staph infection I had had earlier that year.”He also began to develop what he called a “growing internal sickness" that made it difficult for him to eat for the rest of his captivity and led to a dramatic weight loss.After a year of captivity he was placed in a cage with his hands in chains except for the few times when he would wash or change clothes. For a year his feet were chained to the cage every night, though that ended “because of the acute pain my feet and legs where [sic] in.” He claims that pain had developed into a “freezing numbness that continues to the present, as both feet have neuropathy.”He would spend the rest of his captivity in the cage, but unshackled only because it was placed over plumbing that allowed him to relieve himself.His captors would routinely play mind games with him, telling him he would be executed one day, “told I would leave the next day, and the next day told I would be there for 30 years.”Bergdahl claims he attempted to escape from his captors about a dozen times, the first one taking place just hours after he was captured in 2009 in eastern Afghanistan.Taken to a village, he claims a Taliban fighter began punching him each time he evaded his questions. Blindfolded with a blanket over his head, “I believed I had a chance to run for it and did.” But he was soon brought down by a large group of men who repeatedly punched him, including one who used the butt stock of a broken AK-47.He twice was able to escape beyond the buildings where he was being held -- the first time during his first week in captivity, when he escaped for 10 to 15 minutes “and after recapturing me and putting chains back on they took turns beating me with a length of thick robber [sic] hose.” Bergdahl said the escape attempt led to his being taken to a more secured compound.His most daring escape occurred at the end of his first year of captivity, when he was able to evade his captors for nine days. “Without food and only putrid water to drink, my body failed on top of a short mountain close to evening.”He was recaptured a short time later by a large Taliban search group that proceeded to beat him severely. “One tried to rip my beard and hair out, but from what I could sense they where [sic] more worried about getting me out of that area as quickly as possible.”

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Hotel on the Falls reopens today

Hotel on the Falls reopens today(Courtesy BizMojo Idaho) IDAHO FALLS — The Hotel on the Falls, an Idaho Falls landmark for almost 40 years, is back in business today, with a new owner and refurbished rooms. The 85-room, eight-story building at 475 River Parkway, which dates back to 1978, when it was known as the Westbank Tower, was sold at […]

Idaho teacher salaries took an unexplained dip in 2013-14

Idaho teacher salaries took an unexplained dip in 2013-14(Courtesy Idaho Education News) BOISE — The average teacher pay in Idaho dropped by more than $200 from 2012-13 to 2013-14 — a decrease that the state’s teachers’ union can’t explain. On average, only two states pay their teachers less than Idaho. A March 10 hearing on a teacher career ladder bill drew dozens of […]

Bowe Bergdahl charged with desertion, lawyer says

Bowe Bergdahl charged with desertion, lawyer says

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- American soldier and former Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion for allegedly walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, Bergdahl's attorney told ABC News Wednesday.Bergdahl was freed after five years in Taliban captivity in a controversial deal last year in which the U.S. agreed to release five mid- to high-level Taliban figures from detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama called it a "good day" when Bergdahl was freed, but critics, including some high-ranking Republicans, loudly denounced the deal, likening it to negotiating with terrorists. Also, lawmakers complained that Congress had not been consulted about the exchange, as they said the law requires.After Bergdahl's dramatic return to the U.S., the Army launched an investigation into whether the soldier willfully left his post in Afghanistan before he was taken by the Taliban in 2009, as some Afghan war veterans alleged.

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Madison opting out of test could cost Idaho $10 million

Madison opting out of test could cost Idaho $10 million(Courtesy Idaho Education News) REXBURG — Madison School District Superintendent Geoff Thomas says his students will not be taking the state-adopted standardized test next month, even though that may defy a federal requirement and could cost Idaho more than $10 million. “It certainly could be that extreme,” said Tim Corder, special assistant to Superintendent of […]

Report: State has ‘sunk’ $61 million into Schoolnet

Report: State has ‘sunk’ $61 million into Schoolnet(Courtesy Idaho Education News) The state has “sunk” about $61 million into a flawed statewide instructional management system, and now has few options going forward. That’s the conclusion of a state report criticizing the Schoolnet project — a system that was supposed to provide teachers with real-time data on student development and growth. “Poor management, […]

Idaho’s new graduation rate: 77.3 percent

Idaho’s new graduation rate: 77.3 percent(Courtesy Idaho Education News) BOISE — More than three in four Idaho students earned a high school diploma within four years, according to 2013-14 numbers from the State Department of Education. And close to 88 percent of the students in the class of 2014 pursued or received a high school diploma or certificate of some […]

Leaving I.F. coach has lasting impact on students

Leaving I.F. coach has lasting impact on studentsIDAHO FALLS – When you love a sport as much as Britney Christensen, walking away from it can be very hard. Christensen, the head coach of the Idaho Falls High School’s girls basketball team, recently announced that after six seasons, she would resign, effective immediately, to spend more time with her family. “I’ve loved my […]

TEDx Rexburg event rethinks the ordinary

TEDx Rexburg event rethinks the ordinary(Courtesy Rexburg Standard Journal) REXBURG — Rexburg was exposed to some “ideas worth spreading” after last Saturday’s TEDx event with the theme of “Rethinking the Ordinary.” One hundred specifically selected individuals gathered at The Atrium at Hemming Village to hear eight speakers share their views on a number of subjects including love, practice, relationships and […]

House Education passes teacher salary bill

House Education passes teacher salary bill(Courtesy Idaho Education News) BOISE — The House Education Committee passed a five-year teacher salary bill Friday on the strength of unanimous support from education groups. Lawmakers, state officials and education groups had been engaged in a deep debate over teacher salaries and accountability throughout the session, with two previous versions of the career ladder […]

Bowling alley break-in

Bowling alley break-inRIGBY — Rigby Bowl, a local bowling alley, was broken into and vandalized Monday night. The Rigby Police Department reports the front glass door had been broken and a number of items inside the building had been destroyed. The fire hose also had been turned on, flooding the building. Additionally, money had been stolen from […]

Eastern Idaho man sentenced for $280,000 fraud

Eastern Idaho man sentenced for $280,000 fraudPOCATELLO — Matthew Lewis Udy of Idaho Falls was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release for fraud and unauthorized use of an access device, according to a news release. The 45-year-old also was ordered to pay $275,488.32 restitution to his victims. He had previously […]

Melaleuca unveils global headquarters

Melaleuca unveils global headquartersIDAHO FALLS — Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot unveiled his company’s new global headquarters to members of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce and the media on Monday. The 350,000 square-foot complex, located south of Idaho Falls, consolidates the majority of Melaleuca’s regional holdings into a single a 195-acre campus. The building, VanderSloot said, is […]

Podcast: Police Chief Mark McBride speaks with KEIR host Mark Richardson about rooftop gunman

Podcast: Police Chief Mark McBride speaks with KEIR host Mark Richardson about rooftop gunmanEIN Political columnist Mark Richardson sat down with Idaho Falls Police Chief Mark McBride to get the full stroy behind the rooftop gunman that shutdown portions of Idaho Falls Wednesday. Listen to the entire interview below: We have seen and read of similar high tension situations around the country where police are put into what […]

Podcast: Jefferson Prosecutor Robin Dunn speaks with KEIR host Jolyn Thomas

Podcast: Jefferson Prosecutor Robin Dunn speaks with KEIR host Jolyn ThomasThe attempted recall election of Jefferson County Prosecutor Robin Dunn failed, but rumors and allegations are still swirling in Jefferson County. On Friday, Idaho’s Midday News host Jolyn Thomas had an in-depth on-air conversation with Dunn about the recall election and his feelings about the controversies in Jefferson County. He opened up about how the […]

I.F. police chief talks rooftop gunman

I.F. police chief talks rooftop gunmanIdaho Falls Police received a call Wednesday evening about a man on the roof of a building in downtown Idaho Fall holding a rifle mounted with a scope. The incident sparked a partial shutdown of downtown Idaho Falls, while SWAT teams were deployed to quickly appraise the situation. EIN Political columnist Mark Richardson sat down […]

Ybarra is pitching her version of a teacher pay bill

Ybarra is pitching her version of a teacher pay bill(Courtesy: Idaho Education News) BOISE — The plan would allow 10 school districts to participate in a pilot of the career ladder teacher salary plan, Ybarra said in an interview with Idaho Education News Thursday afternoon. Ybarra would also give all teachers a 3 percent raise next year and roll out a separate tiered licensure […]

LDS Temple thief pleads guilty

LDS Temple thief pleads guilty(Courtesy: Rexburg Standard Journal) REXBURG — The former BYU-Idaho student who was accused of a string of thefts, including from the LDS Rexburg Temple, has pleaded guilty to several counts of the crime. Tylon Jay Rankin, 23, a former BYU-Idaho student was arrested for committing a series of thefts in Rexburg over several months. He […]

I.F. police respond to reported gunman

I.F. police respond to reported gunmanIDAHO FALLS — Residents were given a scare Wednesday after parts of downtown Idaho Falls were closed due to a reported gunman on a roof. The Idaho Falls Police Department identified a 16‐year‐old boy as the suspected gunman. According to a department press release, officers received a call around 6:11 p.m. of an unidentified individual […]

District 93 board re-approves $56.1 million bond for May election

District 93 board re-approves $56.1 million bond for May electionIDAHO FALLS — Board trustees in Bonneville Joint School District 93 approved a new plan to re-run its $56.1 million bond proposal in May. On Wednesday night, trustees voted 4-1 to make a third attempt to secure funding to build a new high school. The new school is aimed at reducing increasing overcrowding problems in […]
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