President Obama defended the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl this morning at a news conference in Warsaw alongside the president of Poland.
“The U.S. has always had a pretty sacred rule, and that is we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind. And that dates back to the earlier days of our Revolution,” he said, adding that he would not have authorized the swap if he believed it was “contrary to American national security.”
“We saw an opportunity. We were concerned about Sgt. Bergdahl’s health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange and we seized that opportunity,” the president said, pointing out that Congress has been briefed for “quite some time about the possibility” that there would be a prisoner swap for Bergdahl.
Obama was asked about the many accounts in recent days about Bergdahl deserting his unit.
“Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity, period. Full stop. We don’t condition that. That’s what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over to the war theater should expect, not just from their commander in chief but the United States of America,” said Obama.
He went on to say that prisoner exchanges like this one are typical of the end of wars.
“That was true for George Washington. That was true for Abraham Lincoln. That was true for FDR. That’s been true in every combat situation. At some point you try to get your folks back.”