News / USA

    US Defense Chief Defends Secrecy of Prisoner Swap Deal

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to members of the military during his visit to Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, June 1, 2014.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to members of the military during his visit to Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, June 1, 2014.
    VOA News
    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is defending the deal to secure the freedom of an American soldier in a swap for five Afghan insurgents, even though Congress was not notified ahead of time as required by U.S. law.

    Hagel said officials feared the life of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was in danger.  As a result, he said congressional leaders were not given the required 30-day notice that President Barack Obama planned to release the prisoners from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and turn them over to Qatar.  Qatari officials have pledged to hold them for a year.
     
    FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.
    x
    FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.
    FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.

    Some opposition lawmakers in Washington have praised Bergdahl's release, but criticized the terms of the prisoner swap.

    One Republican critic, Congressman Mike Rogers, called the prisoner swap "a fundamental shift" in U.S. policy that would give terrorists "a greater incentive" to take Americans hostage.

    Bergdhal was flown Sunday to a U.S. Army base in Germany to undergo a medical checkup and initial questioning about his nearly five years in captivity at the hands of the Taliban.  The circumstances surrounding his capture remain murky.
     
    President Barack Obama stands with Bob Bergdahl (R) and Jami Bergdahl (L) as he delivers a statement about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, May 31, 2014.President Barack Obama stands with Bob Bergdahl (R) and Jami Bergdahl (L) as he delivers a statement about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, May 31, 2014.
    x
    President Barack Obama stands with Bob Bergdahl (R) and Jami Bergdahl (L) as he delivers a statement about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, May 31, 2014.
    President Barack Obama stands with Bob Bergdahl (R) and Jami Bergdahl (L) as he delivers a statement about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, May 31, 2014.

    Obama, appearing with Bergdahl's parents at the White House Saturday, said that the soldier "wasn't forgotten by his country" and that the U.S. "does not leave our men and women in uniform behind."

    The U.S. leader announced last week that by the end of 2014 it will end combat operations in Afghanistan, while leaving about 9,800 troops there to train Afghan military personnel and assist in counter-terrorism operations. Obama plans to further cut the troop level to less than 1,000 by the end of 2016.

    The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy Taliban military operations at the heart of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.

    Hagel said he hopes the prisoner exchange will lead to breakthroughs in relations with militants.  He made the comments after an unannounced arrival at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to discuss the upcoming withdrawal of U.S. troops.

    Officials say Bergdahl's handover to U.S. Special Forces near the Pakistan border was non-violent.
     
    Celebratory signs are displayed outside Zaney's coffeeshop in Hailey, Idaho, May 31, 2014.Celebratory signs are displayed outside Zaney's coffeeshop in Hailey, Idaho, May 31, 2014.
    x
    Celebratory signs are displayed outside Zaney's coffeeshop in Hailey, Idaho, May 31, 2014.
    Celebratory signs are displayed outside Zaney's coffeeshop in Hailey, Idaho, May 31, 2014.

    The 28-year-old Bergdahl, a resident of the western U.S. state of Idaho, was captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009, about two months after he arrived in Afghanistan.

    His hometown of Hailey, Idaho had been planning its annual "Bring Bowe Back" event on June 28.  But upon hearing of his release Saturday, the event was quickly renamed "Bowe is Back," and is now planned as a welcome home party.

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: zarabmal from: Afghanistan
    June 01, 2014 11:41 PM
    I hope the released soldier gets back to his family safely. His release is a good news for everyone. it is also hoped that innocents imprisoned where ever on this earth are released soon.

    by: S. Sjeng from: S. Shrignar
    June 01, 2014 11:03 PM
    Media reports that released USA soldier left his post at a forward operating base and was on a "walkabout" when captured by the Taliban....soldier sentt his uniform and possesions home to his parents with a email letting them know he was taking off....Our President then trades this awol soldier for 5 Taliban master terrorists....of couse Qatar of aljazeera tv is happy to take them in and then ridicule the USA on global tv.....

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 01, 2014 12:56 PM
    THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW, but you should know? -- The US has been in "secret negotiations" with the Taliban for over (4) years -- (because the US wanted to withdrawal from Afghanistan, without the Taliban attacking them when leaving) -- and they now are getting close to an agreement -- (the (5) Taliban released prisoners were part of the deal) -- to let US troops in Afghanistan leave, without being attacked?

    LOOK for a deal with the Taliban to be made soon, for US troops to leave without being attacked, and other promises? -- WHY did you think Karzai was so mad at Obama? -- because the US was negotiating with, and making deals with the Taliban, without him or his impute? --- CRAZY isn't it? -- "You don't negotiate with terrorists" -- but we do now?

    by: Wayne from: Colorado
    June 01, 2014 12:41 PM
    Neal - that's the soldier's Father in the picture with Obama. His parents were already in D.C. when the news broke.

    by: lisa from: Chicago
    June 01, 2014 11:09 AM
    Thank the Sweet Lord for happy ending for the Berghdahl family.. what an absolutely horrifying experience for them to go through. very pleased to read this article about the release of Bowe

    by: max
    June 01, 2014 10:53 AM
    I'm sorry, but I thought US policy stated they didn't negotiate with terrorists.
    This is the start of a MUCH bigger problem.

    by: Neal from: Florida
    June 01, 2014 10:52 AM
    Glad to hear that the released soldier is heading to get immediate medical help in Germany..... From Afghanistan..... WHY did he have to fly to the White House first? Was it that important to be seen standing next to Obama who's taking credit for the entire event? A 24 delay in Medical care and upwards of 40 hours of flying time?

    by: Ned Sauer from: fort wayne in
    June 01, 2014 8:33 AM
    Thank you Sgt Bergdahl from all of us for your service and so happy for you and your family.

    by: Clary Lunday from: Texas
    June 01, 2014 7:28 AM
    Welcome home Solider!
    You where never forgotten.

    by: mike from: florida
    June 01, 2014 7:28 AM
    Lets see we give up 4 killers for a guy who deserted and got captured. One way to close down Gitmo.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora