Military brass backed Bergdahl prisoner swap - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Military brass backed Bergdahl prisoner swap

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously supported the Obama administration's exchange of five Taliban leaders for an Army sergeant held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years.

In letters to the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the nation's seven top military leaders insisted that the United States has a sacred commitment to men and women who serve that it will never leave anyone behind on the battlefield. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the swap in May was "likely our last, best opportunity" to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The administration has come under harsh criticism from many in Congress, especially Republicans, who have said Bergdahl was a deserter and the United States gave up too much for his freedom. Several lawmakers have cited intelligence suggesting the high-level Taliban officials could return to the Afghanistan battlefield.

Five senior Taliban were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl, who had disappeared from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. The five Taliban are to remain in Qatar for a year.

Adm. James Winnefeld wrote in his letter that while the five are hard-core Taliban, they never posed a direct threat to the U.S. homeland or American interests outside Afghanistan.

"I do not consider any of them to be 'game changers' in being able to substantially alter the military situation or otherwise provide considerable benefit to the Taliban campaign," Winnefeld wrote.

Army Gen. Ray Odierno said the five Taliban had been held at Guantanamo for more than a decade and the fight has changed since then, reducing their relevancy.

Several members of the Joint Chiefs said they did not know the specific details of the swap in advance. Lawmakers were furious that President Barack Obama failed to notify Congress 30 days in advance, as required by law.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services panel, had requested the letters and released them on Thursday.

"Each of these military leaders emphasized a simple principle - America does not leave its troops behind," Levin said in a statement. "The unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs for securing Sergeant Bergdahl's release is a powerful statement on the importance of that commitment. I give great weight to their views, and I believe it's important for the American people to hear them."

Bergdahl returned to the United States on June 13 and has been receiving care at a Texas military base as part of his "reintegration process" into society.
  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • Government-held Ukraine town hit by rebel shells

    Government-held Ukraine town hit by rebel shells

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 4:48 AM EDT2014-08-27 08:48:01 GMT
    A town in east Ukraine has come under shellfire amid fears that pro-Russian rebels in the region are advancing on government-held areas.[more]
    A town in east Ukraine came under shellfire by pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday, amid fears that they are launching a counter-offensive on government-held parts of the region.[more]
  • Gaza cease-fire holds as sides weigh gains

    Gaza cease-fire holds as sides weigh gains

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 3:58 AM EDT2014-08-27 07:58:20 GMT
    An open-ended cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip is holding, as many wonder what was gained during 50 days of fighting.[more]
    An open-ended cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip was holding Wednesday, as many people on both sides of the conflict wondered what was gained during 50 days of fighting.[more]
  • Women's World Cup turf war heats up

    Women's World Cup turf war heats up

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 3:48 AM EDT2014-08-27 07:48:14 GMT
    By ANNE M. PETERSON AP Sports Writer Even actor Tom Hanks has an opinion about whether the athletes at the 2015 Women's World Cup should play on artificial turf or grass.[more]
    By ANNE M. PETERSON AP Sports Writer Even actor Tom Hanks has an opinion about whether the athletes at the 2015 Women's World Cup should play on artificial turf or grass.[more]
  • Stay Connected

  • Like Us on Facebook
  • Follow Us on Twitter
Powered by WorldNow

WHDH TV 7NBC WLVI TV CW56
Sunbeam Television Corp
7 Bulfinch Place
Boston, MA 02114

News Tips: (800) 280-TIPS
Tell Hank: (855) 247-HANK
Corporate Media Services: (800) 642-1551

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WHDH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.