Sergeant Bergdahl after he was captured by the Taliban

On Saturday, May 31, the Obama Administration shockingly announced that the Taliban would release Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the last remaining POW of the War in Afghanistan. In exchange, the Obama Administration transferred five Afghan prisoners of Guantanamo Bay to Qatar, where they will be subject to travel bans for at least one year. Though some are celebrating the recovery of an American soldier from enemy hands, many critics have denounced this move for a variety of reasons.

Details surrounding Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban five years ago suggest that Bergdahl may have been a deserter who was violating protocol by walking off of the U.S. base alone and unarmed. Many of the soldiers who served with Bergdahl have reacted negatively to the trade and blame Bergdahl for the deaths of six soldiers who reportedly were killed in attempts to retrieve Bergdahl in 2009. Some are calling for the Obama Administration to prosecute Bergdahl for desertion upon his return stateside, but Defense Department officials have indicated that a trial for Bergdahl is unlikely to occur.

Even if you ignore the allegations of desertion, the price for Bergdahl’s release seems quite high, as the five men freed from Gitmo all held senior positions in the Taliban and were deemed “high risk” to the United States. Some critics maintain that the trade directly jeopardizes national security, while others claim that the deal sets a bad precedent and encourages the kidnapping of Americans. Senator John McCain, a former Vietnam POW, has criticized the trade and said it “poses a great threat to the lives and well-being of American servicemen and women in the future.”

Many Republicans in Congress have questioned the legality of the prisoner swap, as they argue the President violated the law that requires him to notify Congress 30 days before releasing any prisoners from Gitmo. The Obama Administration has responded that this law did not apply because they had to act quickly to save Bergdahl’s life, but one has to wonder why Bergdahl faced such an imminent threat to his safety after five years of living in captivity.

While the Obama Administration’s commitment to bringing home an American POW is admirable, Sergeant Bergdahl’s return is shrouded in controversy. With so many unanswered questions, the Obama Administration owes the American people a clearer explanation of why the trade was arranged and why it benefits our country.

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