Debate rages over prisoner exchange to free captured soldier

WASHINGTON D.C. (WIAT) – While Sergeant Bowe Burgdahl’s family, friends, and hometown are overjoyed at the news that the U.S. Government has secured his freedom from the Taliban five years after he was captured… there is some debate on capital hill if the act is legal. While it is not uncommon for nations to exchange POW’s at the end of a war. In this case the war was with terrorism. And that has some questioning if the United States has back-tracked on a long standing policy by negotiating with the Taliban.

Sen. John McCain says “I certainly believe the administration broke the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.” Similar statements are circulating throughout Washington D.C. as law makers question how President Barack Obama secured the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl without first speaking with members of Congress. The Obama administration says it acted quickly to capitalize on an opportunity as concern grew that Bergdahl’s health was failing.
Susan Rice is the National Security Adviser to Pres. Obama. She explains…”Given the acute urgency of the health condition of Sergeant Bergdahl, and given the President’s constitutional responsibilities, it was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sergeant Bergdahl would have been lost.” But Representative Mike Rogers says the decision was dangerous and could set a risky precedent for how the United States would handle future kidnappings of Americans. “The number one way that Al Qaeda raises money is by ransom, kidnapping and ransom. We have now set a price, so we have a changing footprint in Afghanistan which would put our soldiers at risk for this notion that if I can get one, I can get five Taliban released.”

But the Obama administration says this is just the most recent example how our country will never leave a man or woman behind in war time. Rice explains…”It’s very important for folks to understand, if we got into a situation where we said because of who has captured an American soldier on the battlefield we will leave that person behind, we would be in a whole new area for the safety of our personnel and for the nature of our commitment to our men and women in uniform.
As to the five men released from Guantanamo Bay they will be handed over to the Qatari government which has given the White House assurances that they will take steps to ensure national security is protected.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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