Hillary Clinton on Monday night defended the Obama administration’s decision to trade five Afghan detainees from the Guantanamo Bay facility for a captive U.S. soldier.
The former secretary of state was asked at an event outside of Denver whether she would have traded five terrorists for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was detained in Afghanistan for nearly five years, according to CNN.
“This young man, whatever the circumstances, was an American citizen — is an American citizen — was serving in our military,” Clinton said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “The idea that you really care for your own citizens and particularly those in uniform, I think is a very noble one.”
Republicans have been sharply critical of the deal as a violation of the law and as negotiating with terrorists. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for a Senate hearing into the release of the detainees, whom he referred to as the “Taliban Dream Team.”
Clinton did not explicitly say whether she would have gone through with the prisoner swap, according to CNN. She downplayed the controversy surrounding the deal, however, by pointing out that American allies, including Israel, had previously conducted similar exchanges.
She added that restoring Bergdahl’s health was the most important issue at hand so that the U.S. could get as much information as possible from him about his time in captivity.
“That, I think, is valuable in and of itself,” Clinton said, as quoted by CNN. “As we are drawing down our troops and ending the longest military engagement in combat in American history … we need as much intelligence as we can get about what is happening inside the Taliban.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.