President Obama defended his decision to swap American Bowe Bergdahl for five high-level Taliban generals, and asked critics to sympathize with Bergdahl’s parents, who hadn’t seen their son in five years. He largely saw the debate over the prisoner exchange as a politicized fight.
“I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington — that’s par for the course,” he said from Brussels. He stood by the basic principle of never leaving an American behind, particularly in light of Bergdahl’s apparent worsening health.
“We saw an opportunity and we seized it, and I make no apologies for that,” he continued.
The president remains largely unrepentant about the way the administration went about securing and presenting the release, including the announcement in the Rose Garden featuring Bergdahl’s parents, saying it was “important” for the nation to see the emotion of the moment.
“I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents, and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child,” he said. “We don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back.”