WASHINGTON — Later this week, U.S. lawmakers will hold the first hearings into the prisoner swap that freed Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in return for five Taliban detainees.
Sergeant Bergdahl is reported to be claiming he was beaten, tortured, and held in a cage during his five years of Taliban captivity.
He is receiving medical treatment in Germany after his release on May 31. The controversy about the Obama administration’s actions leading up to Bergdahl's release shows no signs of ebbing.
Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, voiced his dismay over the affair on ABC’s This Week program.
“This is a huge regional and geopolitical problem for the United States moving forward. Hostages are now currency in the war on terror. This is always dangerous for diplomats, aid workers, and soldiers in the battlefield. This was the wrong message at the wrong time, and we are going to pay for this decision for years,” said Rogers.
Lawmakers of both parties have expressed concerns about the White House’s failure to notify Congress before the swap. But Democrats say the Bergdahl case should not become a partisan battle. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had these words for his Republican colleagues:
“Opponents of President Obama have seized upon the release of a prisoner of war, that is what is was, and using what should be a moment of unity and celebration for our nation as a chance to play political games,” said Reid.
At congressional hearings, lawmakers are likely to probe widespread reports that Bergdahl abandoned his post in Afghanistan prior to being taken captive.
“You jeopardize other soldiers when you walk away from your post. End of story,” said Republican Congressman Rogers.
In Brussels last week, President Barack Obama issued no apologies for his administration’s handling of the Bergdahl case.
“I am never surprised by controversies whipped up in Washington. We have a basic principle: we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind,” said Obama.
The controversy has dampened initial celebrations over the release of Bergdahl, who is expected to receive further medical treatment in the United States.