Publisher Passed on Bergdahl Book Because It Might Hurt Obama

Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl / AP

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A division of publishing giant Simon & Schuster decided against publishing a book about a controversial prisoner transfer that freed high-value Guantanamo Bay terrorists for fear that the book would damage President Barack Obama.

Six of Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon members have been shopping around a draft of a book about the Army sergeant, who was released in June in exchange for five Gitmo inmates in a high profile, and politically sensitive, prisoner swap.

Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books declined to publish the book, Yahoo News reported on Wednesday, due to internal concerns that it would fuel criticism of the exchange, and Obama’s approval of it.

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends,” Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers’ agents.

“[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama,” Durand wrote, “and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’”—a reference to the group behind a controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign. (Durand did not respond to requests for comment. “We do not comment about our editorial process,” said Paul Olsewski, vice president and director of publicity at Atria.)

Unfit for Command, the book published by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, topped the New York Times bestseller list after its publication in 2004.