In the 10th episode of the Serial podcast, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's rescue inflames what already was a hotly contentious case of an accused deserter. While Bergdahl underwent "reintegration" at a military hospital in Germany, a Beltway battle flared between Congress and the Defense Department.
On May 21, 2014, President Barack Obama, flanked by Bergdahl's parents, took to the White House Rose Garden to announce Bergdahl's rescue after five years as a prisoner of war. Days later, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on network television that Bergdahl had served "with honor and distinction."
The two served as a match that sparked a fiery war of words that included his former platoonmates making the cable news circuit to reject the hero portrayal and a bitter division between Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. A Government Accountability Office investigation concluded that DoD broke the law by not giving Congress 30-day notice of the release of five Guantanamo Bay detainees who were traded for Bergdahl.
Cue heated congressional hearings and then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the hot seat, defending the fact that Bergdahl remained in Germany for months after his release – too long, according to some lawmakers questioning Hagel.
And then there was one of the biggest questions of all for Hagel: Did anyone die in the search for Bergdahl? He insisted no, but it remains to be determined whether that's true, the Serial team hinted.
For more on the Serial podcast and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's case, click here.