Obama on Bergdahl Swap: I Make No Apologies

Charles Dharapak/AP

An American soldier's release from Taliban captivity first drew celebration, then criticism, and now, a lot of confusion.

The White House, however, knows where it stands.

"We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated, and we were deeply concerned about, and we saw an opportunity, and we seized it," President Obama said Thursday during a press conference from the G-7 summit in Brussels. "And I make no apologies for that."

The public is still learning the details of the Guantanamo Bay prisoner swap that brought Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl into U.S. military hands after five years in Afghanistan. And no one—not even those who knew him—seems able to decide whether Bergdahl's alleged actions before he was kidnapped matter in the context of his return.

"I believe that he totally deserted—not only his fellow soldiers—but his leadership that wanted the best for him and for our country," Justin Gerleve, Bergdahl's former squad leader, told CNN on Wednesday. But Gerleve believes the soldier should have been rescued. "My opinion is yes; no American needs to be left behind."

In Washington, outrage is brewing as Democrats and Republican lawmakers wonder why Congress was not consulted 30 days in advance about the decision to free Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban operatives.

"We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur, but 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," Obama said Thursday. "And we're now explaining to Congress the details of how we moved forward."

Congress looks prepared to hear them, but some are more interesting in the president's role in the situation. "There's too much emphasis on Bergdahl. That is not that important," said Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe after a classified White House briefing on the swap on Wednesday. "What is important is what the president did."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.