With US POW Bergdahl free, prisoner swap sparks controversy in Washington

(By Deutsche Welle) Five years ago, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl went missing from his post and fell into Taliban hands, making him the only known US prisoner of war. The prisoner swap that led to his release has sparked controversy in Washington.

US lawmakers are claiming that the White House has created a possible security risk by freeing five Taliban detainees in exchange for US army soldier Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom. They have also accused the administration of breaking the law by failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance.

Representative Buck McKeon and Senator James Inhofe, chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate Armed Service Committees respectively, celebrated Bergdahl’s release in a joint statement. But they expressed concern that the prisoner swap could provide an incentive for the Taliban to take further captives.

“America has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason,” the two Republicans wrote. “Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces in Afghanistan.”

But Stephen Biddle, a national security expert at The George Washington University, believes that the criticisms leveled by members of Congress against the Obama administration are weak.

“This idea that it will encourage further hostage taking – there’s no encouragement needed,” Biddle told DW. “For years before now, the limiter on how many American captives the Taliban take is how many they are able to get.”

Continue reading