The prisoner swap that brought U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl home over the weekend sparked criticism and debate among politicians and commentators. Following the announcement of his release, Bergdahl was picked up by Special Forces operators in Afghanistan and flown to Germany where he will recieve medical treatment.
President Obama and his administration officials defended the swap as necessary to bring Bergdahl home safe, but opponents say that amounts to “negotiating with terrorists.” Bergdahl was the last U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), affiliated with the Tea Party, was quick to criticize the decision to exchange known Taliban leaders for Bergdahl.
“I do not think the way to deal with terrorists is through releasing other violent terrorists,” Cruz said on ABC’s "This Week." “We can go in and use military force as needed to rescue our fallen compatriots.”
He added: “The idea that we're now making trades, what does that do for every single soldier stationed abroad? It says the reason why the U.S. has had the policy for decades of not negotiating with terrorists is because once you start doing it, every other terrorist has an incentive to capture more soldiers.”
National Security Adviser Susan Rice disagreed with that sentiment, and told CNN “we didn’t negotiate with terrorists. Sergeant Bergdahl is a prisoner of war. That’s a natural process.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel echoed Rice’s sentiments and added that he hoped the exchange would “present an opening” to a future relationship with the Taliban.
A number of politicians in Congress have brought up a law that says President Obama must notify Congress 30 days before he plans to release any prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Hagel and Rice both argued that they couldn't afford the 30 day notice.
"We found an opportunity. We took that opportunity," Hagel said.
Meanwhile, folks on U.S. Army message board express mixed feelings about the exchange, some bringing into question whether or not Bergdahl abandoned his post and was actually absent without leave (AWOL). Many believe Bergdahl should face desertion charges.