Susan Rice: Bergdahl Was 'Captured on the Battlefield'

By Susan Jones | June 2, 2014 | 7:40am EDT

( - "Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield," National Security Adviser Susan Rice asserted Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance," Rice told George Stephanopoulos.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl went missing from his base in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, under mysterious circumstances. According to press reports at the time, he simply walked away from his post.

On July 20, 2009, the Associated Press quoted "two U.S. officials" as saying that Bergdahl "had 'just walked off' his base with three Afghans after his shift."

On July 6, 2009 -- again according to the Associated Press -- "the Taliban claimed on their Web site that five days earlier 'a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison' and was captured by mujahedeen."

While Susan Rice claimed Bergdahl was "captured on the battlefield," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed "there are still questions" about how he ended up in captivity.

"[H]e's been held by the Taliban, we've -- we don't know where, and we don't know under what circumstances, for five years," Hagel told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"As far as we know, he was not held with any other Americans or any English-speaking people. We don't know that yet. I'm not surprised that there are still questions, and until we get the facts exactly what the condition of Sergeant Bergdahl is, we can't go much further in speculating. But you know, this is a guy who probably went through hell the last five years, and let's focus on getting him well and getting him back with his family."

Hagel said "follow-on questions" about Bergdahl's captivity will come later.

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