President Obama said today he would not apologize for the controversial trade of five Guantanamo detainees for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as criticism of the deal continued to grow among lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
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“I make absolutely no apologies for making sure we get back a young man to their parents,” Obama said in a news conference in Brussels.
“This is not some abstraction. This is not a political football. We 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 would ever see again,” the president said. “I am responsible for those kids.”
Obama has faced increasing criticism from lawmakers upset about the terms of the deal and the fact they weren’t notified prior to the swap. Others have questioned whether the deal should have been made since the Taliban who were released were considered dangerous, and there are suggestions that Bergdahl walked away from his post and should be considered a deserter.
Asked if he was surprised by the backlash stemming from Bergdahl’s release, Obama said. “I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington.”
The president said the administration discussed the possibility of negotiating Bergdahl’s release with Congress in the past, but “felt it was important to go ahead” as the negotiations came to fruition last week.