WASHINGTON — Releasing five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was a “dangerous” decision that could set a risky precedent for future kidnappings of Americans, according to Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee
“We have now set a price,” the Michigan Republican said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have a changing footprint in Afghanistan, which would put our soldiers at risk for this notion that ‘If I can get one, I can get five Taliban released.’”
Bergdahl, who was held for five years by Afghan militants, arrived Sunday morning at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany as part of his return to the United States.
U.S. special operations forces recovered Bergdahl without incident early Saturday local time at a pickup point in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. American officials said the government of Qatar brokered the deal.
While Rogers was happy about the return of Bergdahl, he said the “methodology” that was used to get him back is “very troublesome.”
“You’ve sent a message to every al Qaeda group in the world that says – by the way, there are some who are holding U.S. hostages today – that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn’t have before,” he told CNN’s chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “That is dangerous.”
He added that the primary way al Qaeda affiliates in Northern Africa raise money is by kidnapping and ransom.
Rogers’ comments add to a chorus of congressional Republicans who are raising questions about the swap of five Guantanamo Bay detainees, who will now live in Qatar under undisclosed restrictions for at least a year.
Obama administration officials defend the handling of the situation. White House national security adviser Susan Rice argued that if it hadn’t brought Bergdahl home, the administration would not be following U.S. policy of leaving no soldier behind.
“We would be in a whole new era for the safety of our personnel and for the nature of our commitment to our men and women in uniform,” she said on “State of the Union.”
“Because it was the Taliban that had him did not mean that we had any less of an obligation to bring him back,” she added.