President Obama answered a question about the Bergdahl trade today while in Brussels, Belgium:
I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. That’s par for the course.
But I’ll repeat what I said two days ago. We have a basic principle we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a POW whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about it and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that.
We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur but because of the nature of the folks we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did. And we are now explaining to Congress the details of how we moved forward.
But this basic principle that we don’t leave anybody behind and this basic recognition that often means prisoner exchanges with enemies is not unique to my administration. It dates back to the beginning of our Republic.
With respect to how we announced it, I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some distraction, this is not a political football. You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land who they hadn’t seen in five years and weren’t sure if they’d ever see him again.
And as C-in-C of the US Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids. I get letters from parents who say if you are in fact sending my kid to war make sure that child is being taken care of. And I write too many letters to folks who, unfortunately, don’t see their children again after fighting a war.
I make absolutely no apologies for making sure we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child. And that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try and get them back.
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