Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 1, 2014

Obama: No Apology for Bergdahl Deal

President Barack Obama said Thursday he would “make no apologies” for freeing five Taliban detainees in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release.

In his strongest defense yet of the deal that has come under intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill, Obama said he wasn’t surprised by the controversy that has erupted over the circumstances surrounding the deal.

“Yeah, I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. Right? That’s — that’s par for the course,” he said.

“But I’ll repeat what I said two days ago. We have a basic principle, we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war who’s health had deteriorated, and we were deeply concerned about and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that,” he said.

Asked about the administration’s failure to notify Congress in advance about the trade, Obama said the possibility had been discussed with Congress, but the administration decided not to disclose the deal in advance.

“Because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did,” he said. “And we’re now explaining to Congress the details of how we moved forward. But this basic principle that we don’t leave anybody behind and this basic recognition that that often means prisoner exchanges with enemies is not unique to my administration. It dates back to the beginning of our republic.”

Obama also defended the announcement with Bergdahl’s parents in the Rose Garden.

“I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction. This is not a political football. You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land, who they hadn’t seen in five years and weren’t sure whether they’d ever see again.

“And as commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids. And I get letters from parents who say, if you are, in fact, sending my child into war, make sure that that child is being taken care of. And I write too many letters to folks who, unfortunately, don’t see their children again after fighting a war.

“I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child, and that we don’t condition whether or not we make the efforts to try to get them back.”

 

Related:

Senators Watch Classified Bergdahl Video, Question Deal With Taliban

Boehner Backs Hearings on Bergdahl-Taliban Prisoner Swap

Bergdahl Deal Didn’t Break Law, White House Insists

Bergdahl: ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’

McKeon: Obama Broke Law in Bergdahl-Guantanamo Prisoner Swap

  • ShadrachSmith

    From the minds of MAD Magazine:

  • papal

    The Affirmative Action Presidency will not apologize because that would be admitting a mistake. Narcissists never make mistakes. They can not help it that most of the folks do not see their wisdom.

    • Nicholas DeLuca

      Delusional, silly comment.

  • HongryHawg

    Amazing that the hypocrites harp on “Leave no man behind,” and defend this administration for doing just that in Benghazi.

    • Nicholas DeLuca

      C’mon, There is no similarity in the circumstance. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi has become a trite Far Right cliché without merit nor substance. Willful ignorance is destroying our democracy !

  • marelbert

    Good job Mr. President, we don’t leave our men behind.

    • PortageMain

      Even deserters, apparently

      • marelbert

        Even apparent deserters, Yes, we don’t leave our men/women behind.

        • PortageMain

          There has never been a tradition of putting troops lives at risk to bring back a deserter, unless leaving him with the enemy was going to cost even more lives. In previous wars the military made some effort to round up deserters so they could be court martialed or just plain shot

    • Nick Mangus

      Taliban Commander: More Kidnappings to Come After Bergdahl Deal

      “It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,” the commander said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”

      http://time.com/2826442/taliban-kidnappings-bergdahl/

      We have a new precedent and it’s not a good one.

  • Nick Mangus

    Do we understand what precedent this sets?

    This action, brought into the open, legitimizes the Taliban since the United States of America openly recognized them as a negotiating partner. US citizens are now targets to facilitate/force negotiations with the US. I don’t plan a trip anywhere outside the US anytime soon.

    I just did a quick search of the web and look what i found:

    Taliban Commander: More Kidnappings to Come After Bergdahl Deal

    “It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,” the commander said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”

    http://time.com/2826442/taliban-kidnappings-bergdahl/

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