News / USA

US Public Divided on Bergdahl, Taliban Prisoner Swap

US Public Divided on Bergdahl, Taliban Prisoner Swapi
X
Michael Bowman
June 05, 2014 7:06 PM
Even as President Obama defends his decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for one U.S. Army sergeant, there are early indications the American public is split over the controversy. A Fox News poll shows, in the first few days, 45 percent approved of the swap while 47 percent disapproved. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports Saturday's exchange, and the administration's failure to notify lawmakers beforehand, have sparked intense debate on Capitol Hill.
Michael Bowman
Even as President Obama defends his decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for one U.S. Army sergeant, there are early indications the American public is split over the controversy. 

A Fox News poll shows, in the first few days, 45 percent approved of the swap while 47 percent disapproved. Saturday's exchange and the administration's failure to notify lawmakers beforehand have sparked intense debate on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps never has the liberation of an American soldier from enemy hands provoked such acrimony in Washington and beyond. In Brussels, Obama responded to a chorus of criticism.

“We saw an opportunity, we seized it," he said. "And I make no apologies for it. We have a basic principle: we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind.”

Such assertions do not sway Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who blasted the release of high-level Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I remain increasingly convinced from everything we have been presented that these five individuals that have been released will soon return to the fight against America," said Rubio. "The president has now set a precedent that will encourage enemies of the United States to target American men and women in uniform.”

Some Republican critics of the the administration previously urged strenuous efforts to secure Bergdahl’s release.

Still others allege the administration violated U.S. law by failing to notify Congress prior to the prisoner swap, reigniting a long running debate over congressonal authority versus presidential power.

“The law seems to me to be pretty clear that the committee should have been notified or at least, the leaders of the Committee,” Senator Susan Collins said.

But the White House maintains Bergdahl’s declining health made securing his release an urgent matter, and a national obligation to the sergeant and his family.

“I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction, this is not a political football," said Obama. "You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land who they hadn’t seen in five years and they didn’t know if they would ever see again.”

Critics say the administration is grasping at feeble justifications for a poor decision.

Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss said, “I don’t think from a health standpoint there was any issue that dictated the release of these five nasty killers in return for Bergdahl.”

Adding to the controversy are widespread reports that Bergdahl wandered away from his post prior to being taken by the Taliban.

Analysts say the administration was unprepared for the outcry surrounding the sergeant’s release. Public opinion may change as more details emerge about Bergdahl's disappearance and the administation's handling of his release.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 06, 2014 8:23 PM
I can tell it is difficult to decide which is better swap or not. Anyway a convent American president looks like having power to order how to treat prisoners. I would like to know how he got captured by Taliban and how five prisoners involved in terrorism attacking America.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs