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Local pols react to Bergdahl case

Local pols react to Bergdahl case

by Joe Arnold


Posted on June 5, 2014 at 5:40 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- WHAS11 asked local Members of Congress their opinions on the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal, and reached out to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) was interviewed on WHAS radio by Terry Meiners:

"The administration claims they had to ignore the law and Congress because this was a time sensitive decision, but Terry this negotiation had to have been going on for months."

"Regardless of the President's rationale for releasing these terrorists, I sure hope he's taken adequate steps to ensure that these senior terrorist leaders don't harm America or her allies.  And honestly I'm not convinced that he has."

A spokesman for U.S. Senator Rand Paul said Paul believes it was a bad deal and one he wouldn't have made, and that President Obama didn't follow the law by not appropriately notifying Congress.

Paul was interviewed by Neal Cavuto on Fox News:

"I'm not sure it would be a good swap if we were trading for a Medal of Honor winner, much less trading for someone who may have been a deserter."

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky 3rd District) was interviewed on Monday by WHAS11:

"This was clearly not an easy decision I'm sure, but you've got a Commander in Chief who has a soldier in captivity.  You have five detainees who - we have no idea whether they are dangerous or not.

Clearly they were not . They didn't have enough evidence to try them for anything.  I can see where this can be a logical trade.  I hesitate to see where this would be a precedent because I can't see this happening very often.  I know the administration is not going to release anyone who is demonstrably dangerous to this country."

Yarmuth added the release could possibly facilitate better diplomacy with the Taliban.

U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-Indiana)

"While we always hope to see the return of American POWs, I am concerned about the actions of the Obama Administration to obtain this release. The president reached an agreement without notifying Congress beforehand as he is required to do by law. This is another example of the White House ignoring the people's elected representatives and the law. Negotiating with terrorist networks sets a dangerous precedent and could further endanger our troops and diplomats. These five senior Taliban leaders are likely to return to the battlefield, resulting in more than merely a propaganda victory for the enemy."

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana)

"There are a lot of important questions that need to be answered regarding the transfer of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee with oversight of the Guantanamo Bay facility and its prisoners, I am concerned about the lack of communication with Congress surrounding the transfer of these Taliban detainees and what actions will be taken to ensure that the released individuals do not threaten our national security or the lives of our servicemembers overseas. I am working with my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to get answer to those questions. "

U.S. Rep. Todd Young (R-Indiana 9th District)

"As a Marine, I subscribe to our creed of never leaving an American service member behind.  The American people are rightly concerned about the odd circumstances surrounding Sgt. Berghdal's capture and subsequent release -- including the President's seeming failure to consult with Congress about the decision -- and we deserve timely answers through our established legal processes.  Meanwhile, we must remember the United States has never deviated from our longstanding tradition of leaving no American fighting man or woman in enemy hands.  I, and others in Congress, will press the administration for more information, more answers, and full accountability for any wrongdoing as the military justice system takes all appropriate measures to address Sgt. Berghdal's conduct."

U.S. Rep.Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky 4th District)

"I do not support the President's decision to release five known terrorists from GTMO. Right now, there are a lot of questions still unanswered surrounding the prisoner swap. The biggest concern I have being the White House's decision not to give Congress the required notification of such a determination, and my colleagues and I are anxiously awaiting more information. It is also especially concerning to me that it has not been made clear how these five known terrorists will be monitored in the coming days, months and years."

"Because the White House did not communicate its intensions with Congress, I don't have enough information to answer questions about whether Sgt. Bergdahl was a deserter, but I do believe it should be investigated. Information is starting to come out from platoon mates of Sgt. Berdahl's, who were previously under a gag-order. To me, that raises serious questions about the circumstances under which Sgt. Bergdahl left his platoon, but I believe his side of the story is essential to piecing the story together. If it turns out he did in fact desert his platoon, I have the highest confidence that the military will handle that accordingly."

U.S. Rep.Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky 2nd District)

"I am glad a POW has returned home, though details surrounding the exchange do concern me. What concerns me the most, as a member of the legislative branch - one of the coequal branches of government - is, "did the president have the legal authority to do this?" I believe the law requires him to give Congress 30 days notice, and to my knowledge that wasn't executed."
"As the situation continues to evolve, there are those who ask, "Was this soldier worthy of the effort?" I think it's difficult to go down that path - if you start saying "this guy is worth it, and this guys isn't," -  because the mantra has always been to leave nobody behind. I will continue to monitor the situation as facts emerge."

U.S. Rep.Hal Rogers said he did not support the President's decision and has concerns about whether Bergdhal deserted.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-Kentucky), U.S. Senate candidate:

"As Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes has been a strong and proven advocate for our active duty service members, veterans and military families. The number one responsibility we owe to our men and women in uniform is to leave no one behind."