On Tuesday, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf suggested that Bowe Bergdahl's fellow soldiers may not be reliable sources of information regarding the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and capture, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Harf made the comments during a heated discussion with Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson.
“Does the State Department consider Sergeant Bergdahl to be a deserter?” Tomlinson asked.
“The State Department — no, Lucas. Look, what we’ve said is we are going to learn the facts about what happened here,” she responded. “He’s been in captivity, Lucas. I think he’s probably the person who knows best what happened on that night"
"According to those around him, his platoon-mates his squadron-mates said he walked off," Tomlinson responded. Harf, however, dismissed the assertion.
"Lucas, some of them, there are conflicting reports out there about this," she said.
"The guys on national television last night, his squad-mates, platoon-mates were not correct?" Tomlinson asked.
"I’m saying we do not know the fact pattern yet. We don’t. Nobody knows exactly what happened that night," Harf said in response.
"Well, I think that his squad-mates would have the best indication," Tomlinson said.
“I don’t think that that’s the case,” she said.
Among those who spoke out against Bergdahl was Matthew Vierkant, a former Army Sergeant who served in Bergdahl's platoon. While appearing on CNN, Vierkant told Chris Cuomo in no uncertain terms that Bergdahl left on his own.
“He left his weapons and equipment, took minimal supplies, and walked off to either join the Taliban or do something else," he said. "The general feeling was that he deserted us and walked off and left us.”
Vierkant also said he believes Bergdahl's actions were premeditated.
“I think it was definitely premeditated with the emails he sent to his father, mailing his stuff home before the mission. I believe it definitely shows intent, premeditation, and those are the facts- that’s what happened,” he said. Bergdahl went missing just three days after sending an email bashing America.
According to a report by Fox News, Bergdahl also left behind a note renouncing his citizenship. Military officials, however, would not confirm the existence of the letter.
There are also reports that Bergdahl may have collaborated with the Taliban and Evan Buetow, Bergdahl's team leader, told Jake Tapper that there's "a lot more to this story than a soldier walking away." Tapper said Buetow "was involved in the immediate search for Bergdahl, pushing a patrol into a nearby local village."
But according to the State Department, soldiers like Buetow aren't credible.
On Tuesday, the Army said it will conduct a new review into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance. Army Secretary John McHugh said the review "will include speaking with Sgt. Bergdhal to better learn from him the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity."
Bergdahl's release was secured at the cost of five high-value Taliban detainees, two of whom are wanted by the United Nations for war crimes.
Video of Harf's comments can be seen above.