A welcome party planned in the hometown of the freed US soldier Bowe Bergdahl --- in which Grammy winner Carole King was scheduled to perform -- has been cancelled.
The abrupt move to scrap the razzmatazz in the town of Hailey, Idaho comes amid increased concern for public safety, because of the increased number of expected attendees. However, it has become increasingly evident that it was not the only reason why the party was cancelled.
Wednesday's decision follows a heated argument between Mayor Fritz Haemmerle and US Army Platoon Commander Jonathan Kennedy, who also lives in the same town, the Daily Mail reported.
Kennedy, is among many Americans who are angry with the swap of the soldier with five Taliban detainees held in Guantanamo Bay. Several commentators and soldiers have branded him a deserter and have said that he deserved punishment and not a welcome.
The circumstances of the soldier's capture are not known, although Pentagon has said that Bergdahl left his post in Paktika Province without authorization.
An annual rally called "Bring Bowe Back" was already scheduled for 28 June, but was changed to a welcome party after he was released by Taliban, last Saturday.
But ever since the party was planned, the mayor's office has been inundated with calls and emails in opposition of the event, reports have said.
"If individual members of the community wish to hold sedate, private celebrations to commemorate Bowe Bergdahl's homecoming, they are of course free and welcome to do so," Kennedy said in an email to Mayor Haemmerle.
"It would be, however, a monstrous profanity if a public ceremony, financed by public money, were to be held....It would be more monstrous still if this ceremony were to, in any way, heap undeserved adulation on Bergdahl, or to adopt the sickly hue of ostentatious jingoism that all too often colors such occasions."
The town authorities, however, did not mention this on their announcement Wednesday, and instead said the reason for cancelling the event was because of dramatic increase in attendance as the issue has received huge amount of media attention. "In the interest of public safety, the event will be cancelled," a statement from the town authorities said.
Meanwhile, Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter told Reuters that he received a phone call from a fellow police chief in Tennessee, who asked him: "What's wrong with you people? What the hell's your problem for supporting this deserter?"
Bergdahl was handed over to the US Special Forces by the Taliban on Saturday, with the government of Qatar serving as a broker. The deal has, however, caused a row in the US Congress.