President Barack Obama is standing firm on his decision bring home POW Bowe Berghdal.
He emphatically said he will make “no apologies” for trading five Taliban militants for the captured Army Sergeant.
The exchange over the weekend for Bergdahl – who was held captive for five years – has been roundly criticized on Capital Hill by lawmakers saying the move amounts to negotiating with terrorists and others furious that Congress was not notified.
Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, Obama acknowledged that he is “never surprised” by controversies whipped up in Washington.
He defended the decision by saying “we saw an opportunity and we seized it,” noting that prisoner exchanges are not unique to his administration.
A firestorm of criticism has followed Bergdahl’s release – including his own battalion accusing him of desertion. In an email received by his parents in 2009, Bergdahl, 28, wrote of being disillusioned by the U.S. war in Afghanistan and said he was “ashamed to be an American.” He is alleged to have left his post while on duty in Afghanistan, but was captured by the Taliban and held for five years.
Now thin and frail-looking, Bergdahl was released last week by masked Taliban members and was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment.
In exchange for his release, five Taliban members were released to Qatar, where they will remain under supervision for a year. Although prisoner exchanges have happened prior to the Obama administration, he is recieving a wave of criticism for the method, including not notifying Congress of the release beforehand. Still Obama says he believes he did the right thing.
“I make absolutely no apologies for making sure we get back a young man to his parents,” he told a press conference. “This is somebody’s child.”