DiscoverSerialS02 Episode 05: Meanwhile, in Tampa
S02 Episode 05: Meanwhile, in Tampa

S02 Episode 05: Meanwhile, in Tampa

Update: 2016-01-2135
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CIA, FBI, YouTube, the Portland PD? There was no handbook for getting Bergdahl back.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

I really thought that there is no way that a cage previously on cereal this is a metal cage or when cage or what they can iron barred cage made for what purpose for me and I knew we'd walked into the tribal areas over the mountains the worst place you can be taken and the Afghanistan Pakistan region is scary how kind of bad animals and wrong is a photo I like making buzz buzz buzz that's the perspective a lot to talk to the wrong word to the impunity is just something in my head saying no the show and the power to say President Obama the from This American Life and the BBC Chicago it's cereal one story told week by week and Sarah came in very early July of two thousand nine just a few days after witnessing a woman named Kim Harrison went or local police department in Portland Oregon and had to go to the microphone because I don't have that person out front it's a pretty big police I mean I think part of it such a like button on the skis me can I talk to somebody I need to report a missing person hence the Yemeni the timing of this and there and think damn unseen I forgot what you're saying is I'm reporting a missing person out of mast Afghanistan well I didn't really want to say that rather bad because I knew when to the person missing was Bo of course the person missing from a place roughly seven thousand miles away who this person and his wellies so soldier and why can't these are military personnel I would do this well it's complicated so complicated here's what happened Kim is a close friend of those like family to each other he's friends with her kids holistic am in army forms as a person to notify if something happened to him on June thirtieth two thousand and nine Army officials came to Kim's house to tell or he was missing Kim is not a person to sit by that is not her nature that first day she thinks How can I fix this ok do what I call and then she thinks Interpol her friend who happens to be high up Interpol the international police force the she calls him and he says Baby Center poll can hold their non military non political they have cooperative agreements with police in more than a hundred and eighty countries including Pakistan they've been helping investigate the Mumbai terror attacks that happened about seven months earlier which meant they'd been looking into Taliban activity in India and Pakistan Interpol can actually move around in Pakistan in ways the US military cannot so Interpol worth a shot to get an investigation underway for Bo Interpol would need to issue something called a yellow notice Interpol version of a missing person report that gets distributed to police departments all over the world to get that going out you need to establish the situation as official police business somewhere anywhere apparently which is like a man's at the Portland PD she needs them to file a missing person report to the Interpol in turn can generate the owners about how they do they make the report Kim sends Interpol photographs of some stuff with his fingerprints on it DNA samples the thing she had for that was a Halloween mask is worn Fallon is Alice in Wonderland characters and bows the Cheshire cat so she sent the Cheshire cat mask to Interpol is all ready to go last thing they need before Interpol can issue the yellow notice is permission from the Department of Defense to say can we do this they have to get permission because it was military personnel and they denied permission instantly kid has NO she took from that time and in them it says the D O D denied the yellow notice twelve hours after it was requested a certain Colonel calls her and tells her the D O D was working in concert with the FBI and the C I A and that Interpol involvement could complicate jeopardize and delay the investigation and search and PS that it was quote in her best interest not get involved quote I'm quoting Kim's own notes here but the point is she's annoying she's as ever dislike incredulous that I was just causing so much problem for them in the nets with a side like this the like squeaking he knows and not behaving female so she keeps going when later that same day Sunday can cause the kernel back she somehow gets his home number and he reiterates he does not forsee the onus going forward can cause or congressman she calls a senator maybe they can pressure the military to change the decision no dice that was that when the question Kim is left with to this day is What if the D O D had said to enable yes go ahead could of worked the above possibly gotten home sooner when I heard the story the question I was left with was what the hack the chili came huffing it to the Portland PD is not the way this is supposed to work so how is this suppose to work the doctor bunch of people who worked on half of the military to get home some on the record some on background they all talked about how much of a doozy this one was there was just no handbook you had a US prisoner of war has been held in the friendly nation of Pakistan by the designated terrorist group of the hike on a on behalf of the lawful combatants Talabani is not like there was a car driven people inside the United States government who had experience on how to untie this particular night and nobody had done this before how do you how he manipulated entire country to get aid and enlisted soldier home you know that you do that I did it but you don't the course it wasn't a military operation that finally got home it was diplomacy we negotiated with the Taliban and traded him for five men and of good now and that in itself is a fascinating story and we'll get into all that but for this episode I'm going to lay out the twisty tourney and often emotional path that came before the president signed off on that trade because before the most powerful person in the United States took hold of those fate he was in the hands of well meaning people much much lower down the chain or not in that chain and all because that's where the search for my lived for years the same day Bo OKs away the dust one goes into effect for about a month and half there's this intense no holds barred military and intelligence effort inside Afghanistan all this equipment hundreds of people redirected to search for Bo the nerve center for all that activity was back in the states in Tampa Florida that's where U S Central Command is headquartered in a CENTCOM CENTCOM has a group of people whose whole job is to find missing or captured people there in PR public relations but personnel recovery I talked to people who worked in the PR office at that time their Intel analysts and they might search for any one has been reported missing from a conflict zone not just U S military personnel not just Americans could be a contractor someone working for and GL hiker foreign nationals reporters I imagine their office as a super high tech workspace like the way NASA looks in the movies it's not that sexy definitely not sexy but that's Andrea not her real name and shall also not her real name they don't need office is cubicles computers telephones and Michelle did not want to talk specifically about those cases its ongoing in military court but what they told me applies to his case and to lots of other cases they've worked on also these women didn't want to use their real names because anything ball related is so sensitive so hot they worry they might suffer repercussions just personally if the public knew they tried to bring Bowe home anyway their job didn't stop when the dust one was called off they kept going until it was over five years later again engine Michelle can talk about the particulars of those case but they were pretty candid about what made their job especially tricky they said there were a bunch of factors first of all that time Andrea and Michelle are kind of it for Afghanistan in terms of personnel recovery Judy had a good system for recovering downed pilots in Afghanistan they said but other than that there was no solid system in place to track people who went missing here's Andrea they should have had two people or more are sitting there in Afghanistan waiting to just support personnel recovery events but instead everyone in the theater were dual had a triple how did you know they had different jobs and so when an event occurred aid you know that they could help but they certainly weren't experts and that differed from say operations and relate what was the how you compare likes of what was in place in Afghanistan versus what was in place in a rack and for persevering different so I reckon a personnel Recovery Division set up and they had upwards of fifteen people sitting in the same room with the only job full time job of recovering hostages I only wish that we could've had something like that in Afghanistan we ask for it many many times that's Michelle thanking him again and describe the pleading of establishing a cell like that where that would have helped us immensely many more people had gone missing from Iraq than from Afghanistan so it made sense Iraq is much better equipped for these events but still what that meant is that a certain point shown and realized we can't do this job from Tampa Bay started rotating in and out of Afghanistan usually for months at a time so they could manage the cases from the ground when something goes missing the PR team turns on every asset they can those assets might be people call Hugh meant for human intelligence or Sig and signals intelligence communications you pick up from cell phones or electronic messages or geo and geospatial intelligence images of the landscape and their job ideally is to layer all this and how to get the clearest picture they possibly can where the person as and then if you get that far can that information off to the people who can actually do something about it either militarily case and in special forces for instance can we engineer an escape of some kind or drone strike to set the hostage free or diplomatically we get our ambassador in whatever country to try to negotiate for hostage or a civilian option remember when Bill Clinton went to North Korea in two thousand nine as reporters at a prison there in Bo's case all of that work all of those potential avenues were stymied by the defining fact of his geographical situation he was in Pakistan and Afghanistan D O D which Andrea Sharp part of the OD owns the battle space meaning they have control they have authority to direct operations and use whatever assets they need that's why the dust one for Bo could be as far reaching aggressive as it was when she no longer own the battle space you have to start relying much more on other U S government agencies that may be operating in Pakistan pretty much any three letter agency that has a personal recovery element in GA da CA FBI NSA and its a C I A that has authority for U S operations in Pakistan now see you really need the C I A now it becomes a more are we doing a lot more asking for help and in dollars back to the Priory is wall are all the other things that are happening inside of that country and less important than this thing that we need right now or are you trumped Trump for instance by current events that often happens that current events and politics on the ground in whatever country gets inthe way of your PR mission during Bo's case we had some very rough patches and our relations with Pakistan take Two thousand eleven when former counterterrorism analyst told us quote you couldn't possibly have a busier backdrop in Pakistan that quote that year started with the debacle was bizarre Davis was a C I A contractor on two guys in the middle in Lahore several people that cost a huge Pakistan then you had the US led NATO on the Afghanistan border killed twenty eight Pakistani soldiers the con is based in Pakistan attacked our embassy in headquarters sixteen people and that same year the U S raid in about about killed us some of the modern really can't go to the tables are talking about maybe humanitarian release is on the tail ends of a unilateral operation into a sovereign nation season of the best time to ask for help those friends and family were also agitating on their own and at certain points there are unofficial efforts became intertwined with official search business in curious ways in ways that actually approach success Kim for example back to Kim Kim lived in Idaho and goes a teenager he spent years hanging around with her family and there was sort of home base for both for long stretches it stay with and work at the tea shop they ran Kim is the idol who actually loves teenagers and she loves Bo she understood and she worried about him she do anything for him just as she would for own kids pretty early on in the search for boat came was shut out by the military but you have scheming calling people she studied maps like how kind and Afghanistan Iranian attacks only get my bag I had my passport like you really feel like Oh I'm a go I'm going to go over them and talk to pack saying please and a dad to work with these organizations I'm going to go there and try and go on TV stupid naive I don't know what I'm thinking at this point is God something can be done as you get with the Lycoming into Pakistan a point where someone can see my passport and yes for my own safety am cancelling your past who can tell you no it wasn't a sinister move by the government or anything like that just someone concerned about her safety Bo's parents were also active throughout trying to figure out what they could do they decided not to speak to me on tape for this story and an aside here I read nothing into that decision apart from their best intentions for their own family and for other hostages still in captivity they've been completely gracious to me throughout this process and I'm grateful to them for it and decide that perhaps things like what I'm about to tell you about Kim were happening to Bo's parents too I just don't know for sure oh and anyway game says in November of two thousand and nine she did something which I can talk about what sort of paid off in one way and that was it got my name and telephone number to someone very bz gear in Afghanistan and then he turned out to be someone that working and about six weeks later at home in her cell phone rings the weird number doesn't answer rings again the message but didn't understand the single syllable of it and it's a message or the message on voicemail on my life as I was in answering the phone okay at first the first ball he didn't leave a message saying Hi left a message in the third call I picked up the night I was somewhat weird serve wrong mail know what is it not my phone my cell phone this is where so anyway I did pick up AM and she's speaking in past due is very obscene not I was not able to understand except for he said the Bad Dog Bergdahl so that's when Kraft you know this is what is going on in my room was and like this person you know the and making faces at him as a missing patch like like what you know um so I told him I said the e mail e mail on his long email email ok so he hangs up I hang up I go on line I try to find ways of pronouncing like fanatic Lee letters from a email Mike Howell I say ke AI and blahblahblah and where he'll get the eye Haziq Anais and he's right but he called back like tennis later and I'm trying to give my email address with an accent over it like three or four times in it it worked the I had no hope that is going to hang up thirty seconds later playing again he now plans on past it's not a single letter of our letter forms except for the rest is in question she cut and paste the message into one of those on line translator sites to decipher it and what it's a complete gibberish translation was like horrible was it like those sweatshirts that say like you know the have we celebrate victory now would be um hello fall of the fluff of the bridge and tomorrow because that's not what it actually said just a for instance came understood that just this guy had information about Bo and he wanted something in return so I decide I will I cannot help you I will find someone right now I will make phone calls I will find someone very simple English soon can cause a friend which I do the friend tells ur uni the FBI she contacts the FBI and eventually the FBI translates the message he was proposing a deal them in the deal was to share when he he he had access to where the locations where for whereby would go and where he was in a given time had access to that so he said I can give you information where Bo's going to be removed so that you guys handle get and the exchange I want out of the country I want my family I'm eighty eight family members it sounds too good to be true right but incredibly this guy checked out Kim can say how the guy was connected to both situation or what proof he provided but apparently he checked out to the extent that the FBI began exchanging emails with them they would do write some copy vaguely tell me what it meant I had stress and the copy and paste it in my email and send it for my email address and Mike my computer and not different location because of there and he's he's watched me pee and then he would know with somebody else so you are basically that the FBI at this point is communicating with the sky through you through the area he came clear that I have to get the emails I'm not getting emails and he's going to stop so force me I was willing to do whatever hahas this is just the least he knew he was also communicating with the government they had to know when she got that first call Bo had been a prisoner with the Taliban for about six months he's going through the worst winter of his whole five years he was the coldest the sickest hungry Asst of course Kim didn't know any of that but she was hopeful maybe this could spring him in them the bass soiree at a given location of finance who came up and take them you know when we die and see ya and so are we and doing great and so happen um Kim doesn't entirely know because her communication with the FBI was a one way proposition their mantra to her was need to know for good reason o Kim does know is that for two years running she signed releases so that the NSA could monitor her phone her computer tv and fall or if they wanted her hand from her house and then after that two years was nothing so just kind of fizzled away after a while for my face that yes I found out what happened the FBI cultivated the source for a while and then passed along to the Department of Defense it turned out this guy who called Kim on her cell phone one day because of some secret thing she did on her own to get her number to the Taliban this turned out to be one of the best leads they ever had in Bo's case one person tasked with finding go told me quote I thought for sure that was the answer quote but they could never quite make it happen the guy wanted to bring his relatives over if you bring nine people to the US under some version of witness protection government agency is going have to take care of them for their whole lives may be and my source told me none of the agencies raise their hand even so visa papers started to be drawn up just in case and then the guy with Drew didn't respond when asked for details about his family members for the paperwork over the years when they go back to the Dr ordered Cod trying to think up solutions for finding someone would always write this guy analyst about him he was willing once still they're still active trying to get that no one pursued and the the one Intel expert told me if you have all the tools you need you can find someone in less than thirty days to say you can rescue them in thirty days but can at least find them in Bo's case Cod did not have all the tools they need was never able to say with one hundred percent certainty where Bo was the US didn't have reliable human intelligence sources on the ground with dearest and counties have that area locked down so tightly and are so good of propagating misinformation that they either couldn't get Intel or couldn't trust what Intel they did get to figure out Bo's exact location which neighborhood which compound they needed for instance rounds and the drones have to be what's called an blinking you can't look away but Judy doesn't have drones operating in Pakistan C have to ask other agencies to take a look for you such as the CAA and occasionally they would they might give them a few hours here or there but it wasn't nearly enough because unless a bow happens to get escorted to the latrine on that day at that time not going to see him you need to watch and listen solidly for say a week to catch his going out with are saying maybe follow one of those people in other words the drones give you a much better chance of pinpointing his location and with the location you can at least plan a rescue operation the one former DOJ employee told me quote it was literally two years of asking for drowned the the the the the the time to talk to us for the story referred us to the Cod was lying on the CAA or the NSA or other agencies have their own boss as their own priorities these parties are in general and ethereal their specific pair written down it must be approved by the president for the CAA their priorities are things like targeting top al Qaeda and company members while cost recovery might have been on the list on their radar it certainly wasn't at the top and bird are specifically wasn't on anybody's list so it's understandable that the CAA can just turn over their resources and manpower to a PR mission that is in their own in some instances these other agencies were doing the best they could under the circumstances the the the tension is shot through all of these hostage cases such as bows are we doing enough the answer to that depends in part on where you're sitting or Andrea this is all you think about all day getting your hostages home what else can we do they said they had to fight complacency Malays because their priority was in everyone's party even if on paper it was suppose to be the show so that have to get Wiley sometimes just to get the meetings they needed time with the specific general the in his exact and I've been talking back and forth and just don't know if I can get on in one of our counterparts was really good friends with that exact time and she worked with a BA in kind and put the bug as their hay week we have our analysts out there and she needs time of this general and can make that happen in sushi cause inches I think I can get that done free of it he really likes Johnny Walker Black label if you can facilitate maybe put an add on is that and maybe there isn't beef jerky I think we can make that happen so I did and I got the time I needed it says things like that you're like unbelievable just to get in front of someone to talk about significant personnel recovery events and a half to answer I'm sure I ponder as many stories very similar to what I just told you they do the most basic things just to remind people that yes there are American hostages in Syria Afghanistan Pakistan they put up posters make those rubber bracelets here's Michelle Andrea I'd gone to the camera VA's Veterans Day or P O W but we should made shirts for S We went to this event and we came back to the building that day or walking in a curl stop dozens like one who is out on your shirt this is Bergdahl and he's been missing for weeks that I had no idea about that really an assist or UK education bulletin I am can't believe that story that is when you see it's it's insane it's you know the one that breaks my heart is Coleman she gave birth in captivity why are we not talking about that that's Andrea Caitlin Coleman and her husband Joshua Boyle disappeared in Afghanistan twenty twelve Kaitlyn was pregnant at the time it is mates it makes my heart hurt young and you ask the mayor the average American on the street who she is known now all I just wanna talk for a second about this very human thing that overlays again not as Bo's case but all these hostage cases take on Rutherford has a young guy Canadian use free from the Taliban last week after more than five years had been traveling in Afghanistan when he went missing and the day he was released The Canadian Press covered and not the details of how and why just the fact of His return and the online immediately this goes on vacation to Afghanistan bonehead ER this should read the address cute who cares about the details well I'm tempted to be all and say the fall how can people be so awful the truth is I thought things I mean it's great they're home but also their own damn fault admit it and I'll wager we've all thought things like this rate it's not in conflict which makes us no different than a lot of the people charged with finding a and work on or Bowe only difference is those people are not supposed to think like circumstances are not supposed enter Michelle told not care about circumstances verse to get the person back and then come consequences judgment punishment not the other way around because there isn't a hostage situation out there that doesn't involve some aspect of wrong place wrong time some element of human error the surprise of their job was their colleagues in always feel the same way in the big shock for me was the salesman checked the realize that I was going to have to convince them that supporting my mission was something that they should do I didn't think that that would be an issue that once when you're standing before your peers inch and addressing the meeting and first and foremost you have to get over the misconceptions of circumstances of capture and this rings true to a lot of cases you know you hear the comment Oh he's just a journalist stationed there anyway why should we help her oh they were just hiking why would they be hiking there take a hike in Colorado coal isn't that the kid that walked off base yet McCain invented the tell you the amount of times we heard tt i should i care he did that to herself for she did this are just some oil on in certain cases but the level of leadership and the backgrounds of these and eventful she just can't believe that they defend that but in Bo's case of course the Why should I care attitude was doubled maybe even cued by the information
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S02 Episode 05: Meanwhile, in Tampa

S02 Episode 05: Meanwhile, in Tampa

This American Life