President Barack Obama on Thursday vowed he would not apologise for his decision to approve a prisoner swap that brought home an American prisoner of war, dismissing the controversy as one that was “whipped up in Washington.”
“We saw an opportunity, and we seized it. And I make no apologies for it,” Obama said Thursday at a joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in Brussels.
Obama continued to push back at critics of his decision to make the deal freeing U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Taliban-aligned soldiers who were being held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After the weekend swap, several fellow soldiers who served with Bergdahl claimed he willingly deserted his unit. And members of Congress have accused Obama of breaking the law with the swap, since it did not feature a required 30-day notice of Congress.
Asked if he could have handled the initial rollout of Bergdahl’s story any better — for example, he had Bergdahl’s parents join him in an emotional Rose Garden statement last weekend — Obama dismissed the question and said Bergdahl shouldn’t be used as an “abstraction” or a “political football.”
“I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. That’s par for the course,” Obama said.
He added: “I make absolutely no apologies for making sure we get back a young man to his parents.”
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