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July 10, 2014

A previously unseen photograph depicts what appears to be Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl smiling next to a Taliban commander.

The photo was posted to a Twitter account associated with the Afghan Taliban. "Bowe #Bergdahl was really impressed when he saw the hospitality of #Taliban He first thought that he will be tortured But he was wrong," one of the tweets reads.

NBC News reports that the commander in the photo appears to be Badruddin Haqqani, whose family has been called the most powerful Taliban faction. Haqqani was killed in 2012 by a U.S. drone strike.

Some Twitter users are claiming that the photo is evidence the former Taliban prisoner was treated well during his captivity, rather than being tortured. However, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesperson dismissed the photo as "100 percent propaganda," suggesting that Bergdahl was forced into the pose.

The U.S. military is currently investigating Bergdahl's disappearance from his post in Afghanistan in 2009. He was exchanged for five Taliban commanders in a controversial move by the U.S. on May 31. If Bergdahl is given desertion charges, he could be charged $200,000 for pay during his captivity. Take a look at the photo in question below. --Meghan DeMaria

1:16 a.m. ET

In President Trump's new Afghanistan War policy, laid out in a speech on Monday night, he pledged a deliberately unspecified troop surge, probably of about 4,000 extra troops, and declined to set a timetable for withdrawing the U.S. military from the country. Trump sided with the former generals in his administration rather than those advocating winding down the 16-year-old war as a lost cause, prominently his recently ejected chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, so perhaps it is no surprise that the foreign policy hawks in the Republican Party were very enthusiastic about Trump's speech...

...while Bannon's Breitbart News vehemently disagreed with Trump's decision. Specifically, the writers and editors at Breitbart took issue with Graham and other conservatives that the policy was significantly different that former President Barack Obama's.

Democrats criticized Trump's lack of details or vision. And while the reaction at Fox News was much more positive, not all Fox News regulars were on board. Laura Ingraham, a conservative radio host once considered for White House press secretary and reportedly in talks for her own Fox News TV show, sounded almost like the Democrats.

So, 2017, strange bedfellows, etc. Peter Weber

12:58 a.m. ET
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When Rickee Stewart walks down the aisle next month, she won't have any wedding presents waiting for her to unwrap when the day is over — and that's exactly how she wants it.

The West Jordan, Utah, high school teacher has registered for winter coats and tennis shoes to give to homeless students, rather than china and sheets. Stewart told KSL.com she had no idea there were more than 100 homeless students at Copper Hills High School until the school set up a food pantry for them. In her wedding invitations, she let guests know that instead of sending gifts to her, they could help her students. Her goal was reached before she sent out all of her invitations, and in the second batch of invites, she asked guests to consider donating money to provide coats and tents for every Jordan School District student in need.

Stewart said donations are coming in from friends and family across the U.S., and even strangers, and she plans on incorporating lessons about homelessness and charity into her curriculum. She told KSL.com her "hope is that we get to not only have this amazing wedding and start our lives together, but that we are able to put some warmth on all of those kids." Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2017
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

When President Trump finally settled on a strategy for the war in Afghanistan last weekend at Camp David, he went with the plan pushed by generals who understand the complexities of the situation and have battlefield experience, not what the non-interventionist faction in the White House wanted, several administration officials and Trump allies told The Washington Post.

Trump has spent months angry over the fact there's no quick fix for Afghanistan, the Post reports. He discussed yanking every U.S. troop out of the country, firing the commander, and even sending the controversial founder of Blackwater to Afghanistan to privatize the war, but finally, he settled on sending more troops after listening to Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose son was killed in 2010 while fighting in Afghanistan.

One way McMaster convinced Trump that Afghanistan could become a more modern place, the Post reports, was by showing him a photo from 1972, before the rise of the Taliban; in it, women are shown walking down the street wearing miniskirts. For years, Trump was very vocal about how pointless he thought the war in Afghanistan was, calling it a "total disaster" that is "wasting our money" in 2012, and saying in 2013, "We should leave Afghanistan immediately." He echoed these sentiments during the campaign, but now, the Post says, he just wants to be seen as "strong and decisive" when it comes to fighting the war. Read more about the strategy, and how former chief strategist Stephen Bannon faced off against McMaster, at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2017

Given Fox News host Tucker Carlson's previous treatment of President Trump, the wags on Twitter had some fun predicting what he would say Monday night about Trump's decision to stare directly into the sun during the solar eclipse, without using the solar glasses in his hand, ignoring all the warnings about irreversible eye damage. "It is good the president is blind now," reads one fake Carlson talking point imagined by comedy writer Jason O. Gilbert. "Trump's other senses are about to get MUCH stronger."

Haha. So here's what Carlson said on actual real life Fox News.

Maybe Carlson was getting in on the joke by declaring, with a straight face, that Trump's staring at the sun without protective glasses was "perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done." Maybe he was serious. Who can say? But seriously, looking at the sun without protection during a solar eclipse is a bad idea that can lead to permanent retina damage and partial blindness. Whether or not you think of the American president as a role model, Trump was clearly setting a bad example by risking his vision for a momentary thrill on national TV. The New York Daily News gets it.

Yeah. Peter Weber

August 21, 2017
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

While discussing his strategy for the war in Afghanistan, President Trump on Monday had sharp words for Pakistan, saying the United States could "no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond."

Islamabad has "much to gain" by working with the U.S. in Afghanistan, and "much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists," Trump said. The U.S. has been paying Pakistan, an ally, "hundreds of millions" at the same time they are housing "the very terrorists we are fighting," and that "has to change immediately," he added. Because both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, their "tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict," Trump said, and it is in everyone's best interests to come together to fight "agents of chaos, violence, and terror." Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2017
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

In a televised address, President Trump on Monday shared his strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia, saying the United States military is "not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists."

Speaking in front of an audience of soldiers at Ft. Myer, Virginia, Trump said the American people are "weary of war without victory," and he "shares their frustration." When it comes to Afghanistan, while his original instinct was to pull all troops out, he listened to his advisers and came up with a new strategy, Trump said, but will never reveal the number of troops on the ground in the country or announce upcoming military actions. Trump is also expanding authority for American armed forces to "target terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan," he said.

Trump said he will not set a timetable on when to withdraw troops, instead using a conditions-based approach, and he said undefined economic development in Afghanistan will help defray the America's cost. The U.S. must "seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifice of lives," Trump said, and the "consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable." Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2017
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't be bonding over a shared belief in fake news.

Trump often talks about his dislike of most news organizations, Fox News being the main exception, tweeting on Monday morning that the "very dishonest Fake News Media is out of control!" and telling the "Fake News" it should listen to Liberty University's Jerry Falwell, who was "fantastic on Fox & Friends."

McConnell has a different outlook. Later Monday, he revealed during a Q&A with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the Louisville Chamber of Commerce that his "view is that most news is not fake, but I do try to look at a variety of sources." McConnell was asked which publications he reads, and he said he reads articles from different outlets for balance. "I try not to fall in love with any particular source," he said. Catherine Garcia

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