US Defends Captive Swap With Taliban, Critics Stir

June 2, 2014 by staff 

US Defends Captive Swap With Taliban, Critics Stir, Five years a captive from the Afghanistan war, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is back in American hands, freed for five Guantanamo t*rror*sm detainees in a swap stirring a sharp debate in Washington over whether the U.S. should have negotiated with the Taliban over a prisoner exchange.

U.S. officials said Sunday that Bergdahl’s health and safety appeared in jeopardy, prompting rapid action to secure his release. Republicans said the deal could place U.S. troops in danger, especially if the freed detainees return to the fight – one called it “shocking.” Another, Arizona Sen. John McCain, said of the five detainees: “These are the hardest of the hard core.”

Visiting troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stepped forward at Bagram Air Field to thank the special operations forces that retrieved Bergdahl, who officials said was the only American prisoner of war still held by insurgents in that conflict. Gen. Joseph Dunford spoke of the excitement that spread through U.S. ranks when the sergeant’s release was confirmed. “You almost got choked up,” he said. “It was pretty extraordinary.”

Tireless campaigners for their son’s freedom, Bob and Jani Bergdahl thanked all who were behind the effort to retrieve him. “You were not left behind,” Bob Bergdahl told reporters, as if speaking to his son. “We are so proud of the way this was carried out.” He spoke in Boise, Idaho, as residents in the sergeant’s hometown of Hailey prepared for a homecoming celebration.

The Taliban handed Bergdahl over to special operations forces in an area of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, U.S. officials said. In a statement on its website, the Taliban put the location on the outskirts of Khost province.

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