White House defends swap that led to Bergdahl's release - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

White House defends swap that led to Bergdahl's release

Updated:
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
WASHINGTON -

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is being treated and evaluated at a U.S. military hospital in Germany today, amid continued questions back home about the swap that resulted in his freedom following five years in the hands of the Taliban.

In exchange, five detainees were freed from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The White House today is describing the exchange as "absolutely the right thing to do." But critics are wondering whether the freed prisoners will find their way back to the fight -- and whether other Americans are now at risk of being captured and held.

Afghan officials are among those raising concerns about the prisoner exchange. Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry says the swap was "against the norms of international law" if it came against the wishes of the five Taliban detainees who were held at Guantanamo. They were flown to Qatar, where they are supposed to be prevented from leaving for at least a year.

Meanwhile, the hospital where he's being treated says Bergdahl is in "stable condition" and that his treatment includes "attention to dietary and nutrition needs." It says there's no timetable set for his treatment and release.

U.S. concludes Bergdahl walked away from unit

From early in his captivity, there have been indications that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit in Afghanistan.

That was the conclusion of a Pentagon investigation in 2010, and a former senior defense official says after an initial flurry of searching, the military decided not to exert extraordinary efforts to rescue the Idaho man.

Instead, the U.S. government decided to pursue negotiations to get him back over the five years of his captivity.

That track led to Bergdahl's release over the weekend, in exchange for five terror suspects who had been held at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They're now in Qatar.

Meanwhile, an officer who served in Bergdahl's unit denies that Bergdahl had been on patrol the night he disappeared, as some reports have suggested. Nathan Bradley Bethea writes on the Daily Beast website that there was no patrol that night. Instead, he says Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty and fled the outpost on foot. In Bethea's words, "he deserted."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said over the weekend those issues would be dealt with later.

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