Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton refused to criticize President Obama’s decision to exchange five Taliban leaders for U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a deal she reportedly opposed before leaving his administration, saying that reports that Bergdahl deserted don’t negate the need to bring him back to the United States. In fact, she used the opportunity to plug her new book.
“I think this was a very hard choice, which is why I think my book is aptly named,” Clinton told ABC during an interview about Hard Choices, her latest book. “If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values. And one of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn’t matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.”
Former defense secretary Leon Panetta, for his part, did reveal recently that he had opposed the deal while serving alongside Clinton on the Obama team. “I said, ‘Wait, I have an obligation under the law,’” Panetta recalled Wednesday, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “If I send prisoners from Guantanamo, they have to guarantee they don’t go back to the battlefield. I had serious concerns.”
The fanfare surrounding the exchange — Obama held an event in the Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents — angered some of the soldiers who served in Bergdahl’s unit, which they say he deserted.