Obama addresses criticism about prisoner exchange - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Obama addresses criticism about prisoner exchange

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WARSAW, Poland (NBC) - President Obama addressed criticism Tuesday about the prisoner exchange to secure the release of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from his Taliban kidnappers in Afghanistan.

Obama defended his administration's decision to exchange Sergeant Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees that had been held at Guantanamo Bay, saying that there simply was not enough time to consult with Congress before the exchange took place.

He said that administration officials had been talking to Congress for some time about the possibility of a prisoner exchange, and when this window opened, the opportunity became available and the US decided to seize it.

Bergdahl himself has not had the opportunity to visit with his family yet, but is being cared for at a US base in Germany.

Obama dismissed questions about the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's disappearance from his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

"Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity. Period. Full stop. We don't condition that," Obama said.

He also acknowledged the possibility that those five Taliban detainees could once again try to threaten the US or US forces, but Obama said that he would not have gone through with the exchange if he thought it posed a risk to national security interests.

Head of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, said Tuesday there was a separation between the question of Sergeant Bergdahl's conduct and the decision being made to recover a US soldier on the battlefield. He said that Bergdahl was innocent until proven guilty, but that if there does prove to be any evidence of misconduct that the Army will not look away from that. The Army is proceeding with a high level inquiry to look into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and the capture of Sergeant Bergdahl in 2009.
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