- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl provided U.S. officials with a “gold mine” of intelligence actively being used by the military involving the Taliban-linked group that imprisoned him for five years in Afghanistan, defense witnesses testified during a sentencing hearing in the soldier’s desertion case.

Two of the officials who debriefed Sgt. Bergdahl following his release in 2014 told an Army judge Tuesday that the soldier has given investigators priceless details about the Haqqani organization, including information about its membership and tactics, according to court reporters.

“It was a gold mine. It really reshaped the way we did intel collection in the area,” testified Amber Dach, a military intelligence analyst assigned to the soldier’s case during his five years of captivity and one of the first to interview him after he was returned to U.S. authorities.

“It reshaped the way we did intel in the area. It confirmed what we knew and what we did not know,” Ms. Dach said, a local ABC News affiliate reported from the soldier’s court-martial in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was “eager to help,” she added, and assisted analysts with building “a captor network like never before.”

Terrence Russell, a division chief for the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency who previously debriefed more than 125 prisoners of war, testified that he compiled a 1,200-page transcript from his meetings with Sgt. Bergdahl subsequently used to produce reports currently being used by the military involving Haqqani tactics.

Because of the soldier’s ongoing legal case, however, he acknowledged being unable to interview Sgt. Bergdahl about the full scope of his five years in custody.

“I need him now. I needed him three years ago when he first returned. The fact that I can’t get that information is wrong,” Mr. Russell said, according to the Fay Observer.

Sgt. Bergdahl, 31, walked away from his outpost in Paktika Province on the night of June 30, 2009, before being taken into custody by the Haqqani network. He was released in May 2014 in exchange for five Taliban members held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay and was ultimately charged in December 2015 with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

He pleaded guilty Oct. 16 before a military judge and faces the possibility of life imprisonment.

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