Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl described his five years as a Taliban captive in a note released Thursday by his attorney Eugene Fidell. Here are verbatim excerpts, with no spelling or grammar changes and only paragraph breaks added for clarity.
“In the beginning of my captivity, after my first two escape attempts, for about three months I was chained to a bed spread-eagle and blindfolded. The blindfold was only taken off a few times a day to allow me to eat and use the latrine.
... Because of the constant heat and sweat my body where it was in contact with the bed would become sore and raw, burning from the sweat and pressure. ... my eyes where always burning and aching. Around my ankles where the chains where, I developed open wounds that looked like the STAPH infection I had had earlier that year. The infection also appeared on my forehead and side of head ... my body started a steady decline in constant internal sickness that would last through the final year.
In the first three months they fed me elbow noodles or rice and very little of anything else, as well as two bottles of water a day. But because of the growing internal sickness it became more and more of a problem to eat. During these months some of the things they did was beat the bottoms of my feet and parts of my body with a copper cable.
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After the first three months they moved me. Though they never fully chained me to a bed again, the first year I spent in chains on both hands and feet ... At this point, because of sickness, weather, and little food and water, hunger, and worse, dehydration my body continued a steady decline. ... my ribs and joints patruded clearly, my skin losing all signs of fat and my muscles, from atrophy, reducing to thin tight cords or bumps that did barely to support me or keep my joints in place.
After the first year they put me inside a cage. In there my hands where always handcuffed in front of me, being taken off only on the few times I would wash and change clothes ... I had between 8 and 12 open wounds on each wrist under the hand shackles. Not healing I would have to push the puss out of them daily. Then they moved the cage to another room over the top of plumbing that they had built into the dirt floor. After this, since they no longer had to take me out of the cage, they took ah the chains off me.
... I was kept in constant isolation during the entire 5 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 beyond the door ...
I was continuously shown Taliban videos. Told I was going to executed. Told I was never going back. Told I would leave the next day, and the next day told I would be there for 30 years. Told I was going to die there. Told to kill myself. Told I would have my ears and nose cutoff, as well as other parts of my body. I was told anything they could think of, weather it was through sign language, broken English, or fluent English.
My first escape attempt was within the first few hours of being captured. The Taliban stopped in a village ...the younger one began asking a question, and after evading his questions he would hit me in the face ... they put the blindfold back on and threw the blanket over my head. Some moments after that I believed I had a chance to run for it and did. I was brought down towards the edge of the village by a large group of men, on the ground I felt many blows from fists, and one from the butt stalk of an AK that broke it off the weapon.
After that in all my efforts to escape I had made it twice in escaping the buildings where I was held.
... in the first week of being captured ... I managed to get a short distance before being spotted, and because of the terrain I had no place to hide and no terrain to use to evade. This escape lasted approximately 10-15 minutes and after recapturing me and putting chains back on they took turns beating me with a length of thick robber hose ... seeing what I had been able to do they increased the guards and moved me to a more heavily secured compound where I would spend roughly the next three months.
The second one where I had made it out of the buildings was around the end of the first year. Lasting close to 9 days without food and only putrid water to drink, my body failed on top of a short mountain close to evening, and some moments after I came to in the dying grey light of the evening, I was found by a large Taliban searching group. After recapturing me again a few hit me and one tried to rip my beard and hair out ...
During the five years I unsuccessfully tried to escape approximately 12 times.
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