Republicans Whine That Release Of Bergdahl Makes Americans Unsafe
Rather than celebrate the release of an American prisoner of war, Republicans are using it as an excuse to claim President Obama is weak.
Top Republicans on the Senate and House armed services committees went so far as to accuse President Obama of having broken the law, which requires the administration to notify Congress before any transfers from Guantanamo are carried out.
“Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.) and the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, James M. Inhofe (Okla.), said in a joint statement.
But Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says Congress was not told in advance of the impending release because Bergdahl’s life was in danger.
In his first extensive public comments about Saturday’s operation, Hagel said intelligence the US had gathered suggested that Bergdahl’s “safety and health were both in jeopardy, and in particular his health was deteriorating”.
Taliban members handed Bergdahl over to special operations forces in eastern Afghanistan, and later in the day the detainees were flown from Guantánamo to Qatar.
The Pentagon did not give Congress the required 30-day notice for the release of detainees, prompting criticism, which is also being levelled at the decision to negotiate with “terrorists”.
Hagel said it was the administration’s judgment that the military had to move quickly to get Bergdahl out, “essentially to save his life”.
He said it was the unanimous consensus of the National Security Council, and the president has the authority to order such a release under article 2 of the Constitution. Only a handful of people knew about the operation and Hagel said “we couldn’t afford any leaks anywhere, for obvious reasons”.