Majority Leader Harry Reid gave a passionate, lengthy statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday defending President Barack Obama’s widely-criticised decision to trade captured Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.
“Unfortunately, opponents of President Obama have seized upon the release of an American prisoner of war, using what should be a moment of unity and celebration for our nation, as a chance to play political games. The safe return of an American soldier should not be used to score political points,” Reid declared, according to prepared remarks released by his office.
Reid went on to accuse several Republicans of criticising the Bergdahl swap deal for partisan reasons.
“It’s clear they’re worried his release could be seen as a victory for President Obama,” Reid said of some of his Republican colleagues, referring to Senators Mitch McConnell, Pat Toomey, and James Inhofe by name. “Let me put that notion to rest — it’s not a victory for President Obama. It’s a victory for our soldiers, their families, and the United States of America. No member of the armed forces should be left behind, and President Obama saw to that.”
Bergdahl, who was released last weekend, has been bombarded with reports accusing him of deserting his post before he was captured in Afghanistan five years ago. Other critics have said Obama violated federal law by declining to give Congress the 30-day notice required before Guantanamo detainees are released. Still others argue the Obama should never “negotiate with terrorists,” even if to secure the release of an American soldier
However, Reid said all these concerns are immaterial to the fight for Bergdahl’s freedom.
“Those are issues that will be resolved by the United States Army, not Monday morning quarterbacks on Capitol Hill. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Sergeant Bergdahl did violate his sworn oath. Who do we want to mete out justice to an American soldier? The Taliban? I will choose the justice system of the United States Army — American justice — every time,” he argued.
View Reid’s full remarks below.
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