Faced with growing criticism from GOP hawks of the prisoner exchange that secured the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held nearly five years by the Taliban, the administration is defending the trade as necessary in the recovery of a US prisoner of war.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reported that Sgt. Bergdahl’s health was failing, and that this also added to the urgency to finally get the deal done after years of waiting.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R – TX) insisted the exchange was a “very dangerous precedent” and put a “price on other US soldiers.” Several other Republicans couched the move as “negotiating with terrorists.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D – ME) pointed out that Bergdahl’s capture in Afghanistan actually made him a prisoner of war, and not just a random hostage, noting that the US has a long history of trading POWs with enemies in time of war.
The US had actually long made a similar distinction with respect to the captive Taliban POWs traded in the deal, using their status as prisoners of war as legal cover to hold them without charges.