CBS Analyst: Taliban Treats Prisoners Better Than U.S.

Jere Van Dyk, CBS In reaction to a propaganda video of the Taliban holding an American soldier hostage in Afghanistan, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, terrorism analyst Jere Van Dyk argued: “What they [the Taliban] are saying is that ‘we can treat American soldiers, we can treat prisoners, better than Americans are treating them.’”

Speaking to co-host Maggie Rodriguez about the capture of Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, Van Dyk continued to explain his observation: “There’s a story in the New York Times this morning, also in the Wall Street Journal earlier, about prisoner abuse, Americans abusing prisoners in Afghanistan. What they [the Taliban] are saying to the -- to the Afghan public is that ‘we can do a better job, do not be afraid of us in the future.’” Rodriguez accepted that premise and added: “Because he’s clean, the place looks like -- he’s being fed. They’re taking care of him.”

Van Dyk went on: “…that’s a signal there. He’s wearing nice clothes, he’s being fed, he has a cup of tea there… what they are saying is that ‘we will protect to the death… a guest in our home.’ He is in someone’s home right now.” He went on to predict: “My belief is, my hope of course is, and my cautious feeling is that he will be protected. He will not be harmed.”

In contrast to Van Dyk and Rodriguez discussing the wonderful accommodations the Taliban were providing to their “guest,” in a preceding report, correspondent Mandy Clark described the video as “heartbreaking.” She described Private Bergdahl as being “nervous” and “scared.”

Clark reported: “The U.S. military have condemned the video as Taliban propaganda.” She then cited spokesman Colonel Greg Julian: “We're very unhappy with the exploitation, public exploitation, of a prisoner and the humiliation that goes with that. That’s -- it violates international law.”

Here is the transcript of both segments:

7:00AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: The search continues for a U.S. soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

BOWE BERGDAHL: I'm scared I won't be able to go home.

SMITH: We'll bring you the latest on the search for Private Bowe Bergdahl.

7:00AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: First this morning, the U.S. military is condemning the hostage video, released over the weekend, of a captured American soldier being held by the Taliban. CBS News’ Mandy Clark is in Kabul, Afghanistan this morning with the latest on Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl. Mandy, good morning.

MANDY CLARK: Good morning. Yes, the family of the kidnapped U.S. soldier is hoping for his safe return. The U.S. military is saying it's doing everything it can to find him. And now the biggest ongoing operation in eastern Afghanistan is the hunt for Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl. They're heartbreaking images for a family to watch. In the 28 minutes of footage, a nervous looking Private Bergdahl says he's scared and misses his friends and family.

BOWE BERGDAHL: I have my girlfriend, who I was hoping to marry. I have a very, very good family.

CLARK: The U.S. military have condemned the video as Taliban propaganda.

GREG JULIAN [COL., U.S. MILITARY]: We're very unhappy with the exploitation, public exploitation, of a prisoner and the humiliation that goes with that. That’s -- it violates international law.

CLARK: The soldier from Idaho went missing last month. In the video he says he was captured lagging behind a patrol, and prompted by his captor off camera, he gives a message to the people of America.

BERGDAHL: Please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives.

CLARK: The Taliban said it's willing to consider a ransom for his release, but the U.S. military insists there will be no negotiating with terrorists. His father, Bob Bergdahl, thanked the American people for their support and asked them to continue to pray for his son. Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: CBS's Mandy Clark in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thank you, Mandy.

[Rodriguez interviews Bergdahl family friend Sue Martin]

7:04AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us now is Jere Van Dyk, a CBS News security and terror consultant. Good morning, Jere.

JERE VAN DYK: Good morning.

RODRIGUEZ: You spent months in Afghanistan, much of it with the Taliban, you know their culture, you know the codes by which they live. What are they trying to say with this video?

VAN DYK: They’re doing two things, they are sending a message to the United States and its allies, equally they’re sending a message to the Afghan public. What they are saying is that ‘we can treat American soldiers, we can treat prisoners, better than Americans are treating them.’ There’s a story in the New York Times this morning, also in the Wall Street Journal earlier, about prisoner abuse, Americans abusing prisoners in Afghanistan. What they are saying to the -- to the Afghan public is that ‘we can do a better job, do not be afraid of us in the future.’

RODRIGUEZ: Because he’s clean, the place looks like -- he’s being fed. They’re taking care of him.

VAN DYK: Very interesting point, that’s a signal there. He’s wearing nice clothes, he’s being fed, he has a cup of tea there. This is part of what’s called Pashtunwali, ancient tribal code that pre-dates Islam. And what they are saying is that ‘we will protect to the death’ -- this is the principle code in Pashtunwali -- ‘to the death a guest in our home.’ He is in someone’s home right now. My belief is, my hope of course is, and my cautious feeling is that he will be protected. He will not be harmed.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, because we all have that horrible image of Daniel Pearl being killed. But that was Al Qaeda, this is the Taliban. Two different things. 

VAN DYK: That is different. This -- Al Qaeda killed Daniel Pearl. There had been eight kidnappings, some of which we know about, some have been kept secret. Most of these people, along the Afghan-Pakistani border -- and I have spent months and months in Afghan villages along that border there -- have been released.

RODRIGUEZ: Let’s hope. Thank you, Jere Van Dyk, appreciate it.    

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC