Feinstein criticizes prisoner swap

War Mongers critical of prisoner swap

By Michael Pearson, CNN
June 2, 2014

After five years in captivity, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is free. But that's hardly the end of the story. While the Idaho man's friends and family and the Obama administration are hailing his release, the deal that set him free is getting heat from critics who say Bergdahl is a traitor who cost American lives and those who say the deal could cost American lives in the future.

A captive U.S. soldier returns home ... sounds like a good thing. Why are some people so upset?

Some fear that the deal will encourage hostage-taking and open a new era in which the United States has to negotiate with terrorists. Others say the administration may have broken the law by failing to notify Congress that it was letting terror detainees free from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Still others -- many of them Bergdahl's fellow soldiers -- are queasy about the whole thing because of the questions that continue to swirl around his disappearance and claims that he may have deserted his post.

Don't other countries make such swaps? Hasn't the United States?

Of course. Prisoner exchanges have been a feature of many U.S. conflicts going back to the Revolutionary War. And no student of Cold War history could overlook the exchange of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers for a Russian spy in 1962, or of the several cloak-and-dagger spy exchanges conducted on Germany's Glienicke Bridge. Other countries, notably Israel, have also been known to negotiate prisoner swaps to gain the release of captive soldiers.

One controversy here is a U.S. law that requires the administration to give Congress notice 30 days before releasing any detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday on CNN that the "acute urgency" of Bergdahl's failing health and what she described as a narrow opportunity to win his freedom justified making the move without notifying Congress.

On Monday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough defended the administration's handling of the negotiations, saying Congress had known for years of negotiations for Bergdahl's release, including the possibility that detainees might be released.

But several U.S. lawmakers on Monday criticized the White House's approach.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill Monday that lawmakers on her committee should have been given a heads-up about the prisoner swap.

"We had participated in a number of briefings some time ago, and there (were) considerable concerns," the California Democrat said.

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman the House Intelligence Committee, said he planned to look into whether Obama broke the law by not notifying Congress 30 days in advance.

Emotional homecoming for Bergdahl family
"I think it certainly merits further review, and that's what I'm going to do to make that determination," the Michigan Republican told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "It certainly doesn't smell right to me."

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