EPISODE 5: MEANWHILE, IN TAMPA
There was no handbook for getting Bergdahl back.
- •One intel expert told Sarah, "If you have all the tools you need, you can find someone in less than 30 days."
- •That's not to say you can rescue them in 30 days, but at least you can find them.
- •In Bowe's case, the DoD did not have all the tools they needed, and was never able to say with 100% certainty where Bowe was.
- •The U.S. didn't have reliable human intelligence sources on the ground in Waziristan.
- •The Haqqanis have that area locked down so tightly and are so good at propagating misinformation that they either couldn't get intel or couldn't trust what intel they did get.
- •So to figure out Bowe's exact location—which neighborhood—which compound, they needed, for instance, drones.
- •And the drones have to be what's called "unblinking." You can't look away.
- •But DoD doesn't have drones operating in Pakistan, so you have to ask other agencies to take a look for you, such as the CIA. And occasionally they would. They might give them a few hours here or there. But it wasn't nearly enough.
- •Because unless, say, Bowe happens to get escorted to the latrine on that day at that time, you're not gonna see him. You need to watch and listen solidly for, say, a week to catch who's going in and out, what they're saying. Maybe you follow one of those people.
- •In other words, the drones give you a much better chance of pinpointing his location.
- •And with a location, you can at least plan a rescue operation.
- •One former DoD employee told Sarah, "It was literally two years of asking for drones."*The CIA declined to talk to us for this story. They referred us to the DoD.