Publisher Frets Over Proposed Bergdahl Book Because Conservatives Would Use It ‘Against Obama’

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

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A proposal for a book that would share the views of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s former platoon mates — that he was a deserter who placed their lives at risk — has found tough sledding with at least one publisher, who worries that such a work would give conservatives another tool with which to criticize President Barack Obama.

Avoiding negative publicity for Obama was crucial to one representative for Atria Books — a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster. Atria Senior Editor Sarah Durand, in email communications with representatives for Bergdahl’s platoon mates, reportedly shared her concerns after viewing a draft of the book.

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the [political] Right using it to their ends,” wrote Durand. “…Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama, and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.'” 

The “swift boat” reference alludes to contemporary critics of former Democratic Presidential candidate and current Secretary of State John Kerry — critics who alleged that he had not earned the military distinctions during the Vietnam War he later would tout during his 2004 Presidential campaign.

According to Yahoo News, the version of Bergdahl’s story his platoon mates wish to tell would portray him as a traitor, further stoking criticism of the Obama Administration for secretly arranging the prisoner exchange that freed Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay prison:

A draft of their book proposal, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, depicts Bergdahl as a “premeditated” deserter who “put all of our lives in danger” — and possibly aided the Taliban — when he disappeared from his observation post in eastern Afghanistan in the early morning hours of June 30, 2009.

But the political furor over Bergdahl’s release from Taliban captivity — the result of a U.S.-Taliban deal to swap five Guantanamo terrorism suspects in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom — is complicating the book’s prospects. Agents for the soldiers say that some publishers have balked, in at least one case out of fear that the project would bolster conservative criticism of the Obama administration.

The book proposal is also being shopped in conjunction with a movie deal. Bergdahl’s former platoon mates told Yahoo News they simply want their version of the truth — not the version the Obama Administration has so far promulgated — to be heard.

“We didn’t politicize this. They brought his parents out at a White House Rose Garden ceremony and presented him as a hero,” said Cody Full, who was Bergdahl’s roommate. “Why wouldn’t you just have a quiet press release? Why do you have to have a big parade? You don’t do that for the parents who have kids who have died in Afghanistan.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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