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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs