Though Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been accused of desertion, and worse, since he was freed in exchange for five Taliban leaders, Americans are more upset with how President Barack Obama handled the transfer, a new USA Today/Pew Research Center poll finds.
Forty-three-percent of Americans think the president was wrong to make the deal, the survey reveals, against 34 percent who think he made the right decision.
Fellow soldiers and the military say Bergdahl wandered off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, which led him to be captured by the Taliban. The poll showed 30 percent have a strong opinion of the soldier from Idaho, divided evenly between those who are angry with him and those sympathetic.
But among veterans who were polled, the split was much more lopsided. Only 6 percent were sympathetic to Bergdahl, and 33 percent blamed him. But the major difference among veterans was that by 68 to 16 percent, they said Obama made the wrong choice.
Veterans are worried about the precedent the transfer might set, Joe Davis, the director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told USA Today. “We have a long history in this country of not negotiating with terrorists," he said. "And we just did."
"If he was a captured prisoner of war, we wouldn't be having this discussion," Davis said of Bergdahl. "He put his teammates in jeopardy, and you absolutely don't do that in a combat zone."
In contrast, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that prisoner exchanges are "something that is part of winding down armed conflict for centuries."
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote in a Facebook post that Obama broke the law. "Let's have faith that light will shine truth in all this, via media or elected Republican leaders who are now asking questions about the Obama administration's continual disregard for law," Palin said in a post on Sunday.
As pointed out by NewsBuster.org, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, normally a critic of Republicans, also voiced his disapproval after Obama made the exchange for Bergdahl without properly notify the Congress for 30 days before making that type of deal.
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