Speed Reads


In wake of Bergdahl's release, GOP leaders question legality of prisoner trade

J.H. Owen-Pool/Getty Images

Top Senate and House Republicans accused President Barack Obama of breaking the law in order to free U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released from captivity by the Taliban on Saturday, The Washington Post reports.

Thought to be the lone P.O.W. in the Afghan conflict, Bergdahl spent five years in captivity before Washington brokered a deal with the Taliban, exchanging Bergdahl for five Afghan detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. GOP leaders noted that the detainees were senior Taliban members, and that their release could have dire consequences for 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," read a statement released by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.) and James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.).

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former Vietnam P.O.W. himself, said that while he was happy for Bergdahl and his family, the trade's repercussions could be disastrous.

"I am eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists never return to the fight against the United States," McCain said. (These prisoners) "are hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans and countless Afghans on their hands."

Lawmakers have also said the Obama administration broke the law by brokering the exchange without notifying relevant congressional committees. A senior administration official responded, saying that "due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl's life, we moved as quickly as possible. The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement."