US Defense Chief Defends Secrecy of Prisoner Swap Deal

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FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.
FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.
FILE – Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is defending the deal to secure the freedom of an American soldier in a swap for five Afghan insurgents, even though Congress was not notified ahead of time as required by U.S. law.

Hagel said officials feared the life of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was in danger.  As a result, he said congressional leaders were not given the required 30-day notice that President Barack Obama planned to release the prisoners from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and turn them over to Qatar.  Qatari officials have pledged to hold them for a year.

Some opposition lawmakers in Washington have praised Bergdahl’s release, but criticized the terms of the prisoner swap.

One Republican critic, Congressman Mike Rogers, called the prisoner swap “a fundamental shift” in U.S. policy that would give terrorists “a greater incentive” to take Americans hostage.

Bergdhal was flown Sunday to a U.S. Army base in Germany to undergo a medical checkup and initial questioning about his nearly five years in captivity at the hands of the Taliban.  The circumstances surrounding his capture remain murky.

Obama, appearing with Bergdahl’s parents at the White House Saturday, said that the soldier “wasn’t forgotten by his country” and that the U.S. “does not leave our men and women in uniform behind.”

The U.S. leader announced last week that by the end of 2014 it will end combat operations in Afghanistan, while leaving about 9,800 troops there to train Afghan military personnel and assist in counter-terrorism operations. Obama plans to further cut the troop level to less than 1,000 by the end of 2016.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy Taliban military operations at the heart of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.

Hagel said he hopes the prisoner exchange will lead to breakthroughs in relations with militants.  He made the comments after an unannounced arrival at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to discuss the upcoming withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Officials say Bergdahl’s handover to U.S. Special Forces near the Pakistan border was non-violent.

The 28-year-old Bergdahl, a resident of the western U.S. state of Idaho, was captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009, about two months after he arrived in Afghanistan.

His hometown of Hailey, Idaho had been planning its annual “Bring Bowe Back” event on June 28.  But upon hearing of his release Saturday, the event was quickly renamed “Bowe is Back,” and is now planned as a welcome home party.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. We lost 6 good men searching for this turncoat, while he was sipping tea and playing badminton with the enemy. Why did his father, Bob praise allah during a telecast? I think he went to the dark side too.
    This capitulation will inspire the jihadis, and provide a way for O'Buzzard to empty Gitmo, thereby allowing him to make good on one campaign promise, and simultaneously knocking the VA disaster out of view. Very clintonian.

  2. we know for a fact that bergdahl was disenchanted with the war through his e-mails to his family back in Idaho.but when he first arrived in Afghanistan,he was excited to be in country and had great things to say about Afghanistan and the afghan people.then something radically changed his mind about the mission and the army policies.we know that sgt. bergadahl witnessed at least one specific incident in which a young afghan girl was run over,perhaps deliberately,by us military personnel.did sgt. bergadahl witness other atrocities or even take part in them with his unit? if those are the factys,then it makes sense(morally) for him to run. "we don't even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armor trucks…we make fun of them in front of their faces,and laugh at them for not understanding that we are insulting them." – an e-mail from sgt.bergadahl is that one of the reasons for the hostility towards him from some of the soldiers from his unit? are they worried that he may testify to atrocities that he saw? and soldiers wait till they get back to the states to desert /go awol..the war party will make a scapegoat out of him.we should not judge until we get all the facts.

  3. please read: 13 things you need to know about bowe bergdahl. written by tim Dickinson 06-02-2014 for rolling stones magazine(rolling stones politics). for example one of the things we need to know is that he actually escaped captivity but was recaptured .www.rollingstone.com/politics/news

  4. Rolling Stone? Please!
    Frankly, I'm not surprised that you would take the side of a traitor.
    If he were so compassionate, he should have joined the peace corps, the military's job is to destroy things and kill people.

  5. hi Blue, yes the death of those 6 soldiers in bergdahl's unit is a tragedy.bergdahl walked away after being relieved ofguard duty back in june of 2009. the first two soldiers that were killed "searching for bergdahl" died by road side bomb on august 18th.the other 4 soldiers were killed on aug.26th, sept.4th,sept.6th,and sept.11th.i wonder if searching for bergdahl was the main mission of this unit by then.the military knew and confirmed his capture by the Taliban on july19th,2009.were these 6 soldiers performing other duties when they were killed?

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