News / USA

Obama Makes 'No Apologies' on Bergdahl Release

Bowe Bergdahl, shown in video while a captive of Taliban in 2010 (file photo)
Bowe Bergdahl, shown in video while a captive of Taliban in 2010 (file photo)
VOA News
President Barack Obama said on Thursday he would make “no apologies” for agreeing to a deal that released Taliban detainee U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, despite controversy in Washington that Congress was not notified ahead of time.
 
“I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody's child,'' Obama said at a news conference after a Group of Seven nations summit in Brussels, Belgium.
 
"We saw an opportunity and we seized it and I make no apologies for it," Obama reiterated.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed details about the release of U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban for five years, during a news conference after the G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 5, 2014.U.S. President Barack Obama discussed details about the release of U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban for five years, during a news conference after the G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 5, 2014.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed details about the release of U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban for five years, during a news conference after the G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 5, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed details about the release of U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban for five years, during a news conference after the G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 5, 2014.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon reported Bergdahl's health is stable and improving as he recuperates at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
 
In Brussels, the president addressed fierce criticism from Republicans and some Democratic allies that he did not sufficiently inform Congress over the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, who was kept in captivity for nearly five years.
 
"This is not some abstraction, this is not some political football," Obama said. "As commander in chief of the armed forces, I am responsible for those kids.

"We don’t condition whether not we make the effort to get them back," he added.
 
Taliban weigh in

The Taliban also released a statement on Thursday, claiming Bergdahl's release shows the Taliban have legitimacy as a movement capable of negotiating successful deals with the United States, a Taliban commander told Reuters.
 
“This gives the Islamic Emirates more legitimacy in front of the world. It shows we are able to deal directly with the Americans and also successfully,” said Maulvi Mubarak, shadow Taliban chief of the Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar.

Mubarak said the deal would also boost morale among the Taliban's ranks, including the hundreds of men under his command in three neighboring districts.
 
“This will give us more courage and determination to carry on this holy task,” he told Reuters.

The five Taliban leaders who were exchanged for Bergdahl have rejoined their families in Qatar after 13 years in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The freed Taliban leaders will live under restrictions in Qatar, including a one-year ban on their travel. They include: Khairullah Khairkhwa, former Herat provincial governor and founding member of the Taliban; Mullah Mohammad Fazl, former chief of the army staff; Norullah Nuri, former civilian head of the northern zone; and Abdul Haq Wasiq, former deputy head of intelligence.

The fifth man, Mohammad Nabi Omari, is being described as a relatively minor figure associated with the Haqqani network that was holding the American soldier.

Bergdahl improving

Since Bergdahl's release last weekend, "his health continues to improve daily," said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Bergdahl has been speaking English with the staff at the Landstuhl medical center in Germany. However, he hasn't spoken with his parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl of Idaho, Warren said.
 
Bergdahl also is more engaged in his treatment plan at the center, but there is no specific timetable for his return to the U.S. for further treatment, Warren said.

Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009. Some soldiers have said he walked away from his unit, and have alleged at least six soldiers died trying to find him.
 
He was freed last week in a controversial prisoner-swap deal that saw five Taliban militants released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and flown to Qatar.
 
Some Republican members of the U.S. Congress have said Obama set a dangerous precedent with the swap for Bergdahl and might have broken the law.
 
"I am never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. That is par for the course," Obama said.

Some material for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
June 05, 2014 12:40 PM
For those opposed to the deal, one must ask: All of a sudden PTSD no longer matters. Does this mean any American soldier or cop suffering PTSD is a coward who must be despised? Seems so.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 06, 2014 8:28 AM
THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW? --- Less than .01% of .01% of the US military ever saw combat of any kind -- (BUT?) -- from my experience with the (DAV) Disabled American Veterans I worked with and knew, after my honorable discharge, I found out almost all their disabilities were frivolous, (non-combat related), made up injuries and PTSD to get disability payments for life, and still work a real job.. (that's what clogs the VA hospital system, all the fakers trying to get a free ride)...

MOST the Disabled American Veterans get at least 10% to 20% disability payments for the rest of their lives -- and free health care for them and their families -- (and the VA doctors help them get it?) --- Over 98% of (disability claims) of Disabled American Veterans, are for (non-combat related) claims they got injured or wounded or PTSD, when in the military sitting on their butts -- and they are really as healthy as any American civilian. .... REALLY

by: Edward F from: Wisconsin
June 05, 2014 12:31 PM
OK. so the US Marine held in Mexico is different?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs