Response to Episode 5 of Serial 2

From Episode 5 of Serial Two, it seems as though the only US associated agency truly involved with Bowe’s capture is the FBI, and barely even then. The overview of the carious agencies and departments mentioned in the episode indicate that the US government and its response mechanisms are incredibly slow acting, and really indifferent to any outside help. It seems like, especially in Bowe’s situation, the military is really in charge. When Bowe’s friend tried to report him missing from the domestic side in the US, the military didn’t approve the proper authorization they needed to finalize steps. The government and its military are very hush-hush; details are only revealed on a need-to-know basis, even if the person wanting to find out information was the one who helped them get that far, as like what happened when another one of Bowe’s friends gave them a source who was willing to provide them with crucial information on where the Taliban was taking Bowe. Without the informer she gave them, they wouldn’t have been able to email and negotiate with such a source, and although it fell through the cracks in the end, it seemed to get them farther than they were before the friend stepped forward, seeking a translation of the call.

Even though Bowe’s friends opened their own investigations and got some vital information for the FBI, friends and family starting their own investigations or reaching out to the captors can be, and is, quite dangerous. Bowe’s father sending the Taliban a video trying to save his son was very bold, but also very risky. It is to be admired, but it shouldn’t have been done. Bowe’s father should have left it up to the government, even if they weren’t trying their all. The families of captives, like Bowe’s family, shouldn’t have a right to negotiate with captors, because they aren’t professionals. It could irritate the captors even more and make them even less likely to release their captive. They shouldn’t be able to pay ransoms. If a terrorist group wants a ransom, it would probably be pretty high—not enough that a typical family could pay, so what happens when the family trying to negotiate with the captors has to pay a ransom that they can’t afford? It could all just make situations much worse. There can’t really be a penalty for negotiating with captors; the family has been going through enough. That being said, isn’t their involvement interfering with a search, an investigation? In the United States, that’s considered to be illegal. By sending a message to captors or terrorist groups is dangerous—it puts both the captive and the family of the captive at more risk. It could tip the captor or terrorist group off even more, and that clearly isn’t the goal.

Friends and families investigating or sending messages to the captors should not be a crime. As previously stated, the family has gone through enough. They probably aren’t thinking clearly, and the only thing on their mind is getting their loved one home. It shouldn’t be a crime, but it should be heavily warned against. In so many police shows, when someone is kidnapped, the family of the captive almost always seems to try and get in contact with the captor or vice versa and they try to handle it on their own because they think the police aren’t doing their jobs.  Granted, Bowe’s situation is much more serious because he was captured by a major terrorist organization. Even though the captors (at large) aren’t a close threat in relation to the friends and family, it is still risky, because they don’t necessarily know what the captors are capable of, and they don’t know how close they may be to either killing or setting free their loved one, which makes the whole situation all the more risky.

Friends and family reaching out to captors seems a bit crazy, but it also makes sense. When they feel like the government isn’t doing their job, it may seem easy to take matters into their own hands; it may seem like the best idea. It’s difficult to judge the situation when one isn’t in it. From the previous episodes of Serial Two, it is obvious that the people searching for Bowe weren’t giving their all because they felt betrayed. Did Bowe’s family know this? Maybe that was their reasoning for trying to get in touch with the Taliban and starting their own investigations. That part of the story, however, isn’t clear. No matter their motivations, they did start investigations and reach out to the Taliban via a video message. From the episode, it doesn’t seem like anything negative came from any of it, which was extremely lucky for the friends and family.


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