Military brass backed Bergdahl prisoner swap

 
 
The Army officer in charge of the Camp 6 prison accompanies the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, inside a show cell at the $39 million, 200-cell prison building while Rear Adm. Richard Butler, the commander of detention center operations, stands outside.
The Army officer in charge of the Camp 6 prison accompanies the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, inside a show cell at the $39 million, 200-cell prison building while Rear Adm. Richard Butler, the commander of detention center operations, stands outside.
MC1 DANIEL HINTON / U.S. NAVY

Associated Press

The chairman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously supported the Obama administration's exchange of five Taliban leaders for an Army sergeant who was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five years.

In a series of letters, the nation's top military leaders said the United States does not leave troops behind. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the swap in May was likely the last, best chance to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Five senior Taliban officials were released from more than a decade's detention at at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl, who had disappeared from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. The five Taliban are to remain in Qatar for a year.

Adm. James Winnefeld wrote in his letter that while the five are hard-core Taliban, they never posed a direct threat to the U.S. homeland or American interests outside Afghanistan.

“I do not consider any of them to be `game changers’ in being able to substantially alter the military situation or otherwise provide considerable benefit to the Taliban campaign,” Winnefeld wrote.

Army Gen. Ray Odierno said the five Taliban had been held at Guantanamo for more than a decade and the fight has changed since then, reducing their relevancy.

Several members of the Joint Chiefs said they did not know the specific details of the swap in advance. Lawmakers were furious that President Barack Obama failed to notify Congress 30 days in advance, as required by law.

Lawmakers have raised questions about whether Bergdahl was a deserter and whether the United States gave up too much for his freedom.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, released the letters on Thursday.

“Each of these military leaders emphasized a simple principle -- America does not leave its troops behind,” Levin said in a statement. “The unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs for securing Sergeant Bergdahl’s release is a powerful statement on the importance of that commitment. I give great weight to their views, and I believe it’s important for the American people to hear them.”

Bergdahl returned to the United States on June 13 and has been receiving care at a Texas military base as part of his “reintegration process” into society.

Read more Guantánamo stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Accused USS Cole bomber Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, a Saudi, shown at left in a photo before his capture by the CIA in 2002 and by sketch artist Janet Hamlin during a 2011 arraignment at Guántanamo.

    Guantanamo

    Court: Poland violated human rights in CIA case

    Europe's top human rights court ruled Thursday that Poland violated the rights of two terror suspects by allowing the CIA to secretly imprison them on Polish soil from 2002-2003 and facilitating the conditions under which they were subject to torture.

  •  
Algerian Djamel Ameziane, a 42-year-old ethnic Berber, has been approved for release but wants to go to Canada, or another country, rather than the nation he fled in 1992. His lawyers have chosen Canada because he lived there for five years, and filed a failed application for political asylum. From Canada he went to Afghanistan, where he was captured in the U.S. invasion.

    IN THE COURTS

    Ex-Guantánamo detainee can’t get his money back

    Federal judge concludes a former Guantánamo detainee may no longer be a threat, but his money is.

  •  
The Kremlin.

    Russia bans congressman, 12 other Americans

    Russia has placed a U.S. lawmaker and 12 other people connected with the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq on its list of those banned from entering the country.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category