Obama’s Choice: Bergdahl Now

President Barack Obama walks with the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Jani Bergdahl, left, and Bob Bergdahl, right, back to the Oval Office after making a statement regarding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl from captivity on May 31, 2014.

Photograph by J.H. Owen-Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama walks with the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Jani Bergdahl, left, and Bob Bergdahl, right, back to the Oval Office after making a statement regarding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl from captivity on May 31, 2014.

There appears to be little question that the U.S. should be bringing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl home after five years of captivity in Afghanistan.

The biggest questions involve the circumstances: In a swap for five longtime detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including some high-level former commanders of the Taliban, and without notification to Congress, which has demanded 30-day notice for such releases. The other questions involve the details of Bergdahl’s capture.

“Bringing Sgt. Bergdahl home is one thing,” Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today. “The methodology is important here.”

“Back in 2011, the administration did come, as according to the law, and had a discussion with a bipartisan meeting with all of the national security committee chairs and ranking members, both the House and the Senate, and in a bipartisan way people said, `This is not a great idea.”’

“That’s the last time we really heard from the administration,” said Rogers, saying he was notified of the swap several hours after it was made Saturday — “nothing” beforehand.

President Barack Obama, speaking at a news conference in Poland today at the start of a week-long European tour, defended the trade. The U.S., he said slowly, with carefully chosen words, has “a pretty sacred rule, and that is we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind and that dates back to the earliest days… 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,” he said. “We don’t condition that.”

Rogers, a Michigan Republican retiring to take a job as a Cumulus radio network talk show host, says he wouldn’t have brought Bergdahl home — “Not under these circumstances.” The other problem, Rogers says, is having made a deal with the Taliban while U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan for another two years.

“Diplomats are very concerned,” said Rogers, saying he has heard from some. “Diplomats and their family, they think there was a price put on their head, and same with soldiers who are standing in the field and their family.”

Obama, speaking at the news conference today, said: “We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Sgt. Bergdahl. We saw an opportunity, we were concerned about Sgt. Berghdahl’s health, we had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute and exchange and we seized that opportunity.”

“I guess you’d have to parse his words,” Rogers said of Obama’s remarks. “I don’t know what he means about consulted Congress for some time. In 2011, they did come up and present a plan that included a prisoner transfer that was, in a bipartisan way, pushed back. We haven’t heard anything since on any details of any prisoner transfer.”

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, says there was no question about bringing Bergdahl home. The big question the military will face: What to do with the freed sergeant secured in that controversial trade?

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