President Obama on Thursday stood by his decision to negotiate for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
“We have a basic principle. We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about, and we saw an opportunity and we seized it, and I make no apologies for that,” Obama said when asked about the controversy surrounding the prisoner swap at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Brussels.
“We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur, but because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations,” he continued. “We felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did, and we’re now explaining to Congress the details of how we move forward. But this basic principle that we don’t leave anybody behind and this basic recognition that often means prisoner exchanges with enemies is not unique to my administration.”
Obama explained that the release of Bergdahl should not be a “political football,” but said he wasn’t surprised that it became a controversy in Washington.
“I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington, right? That’s par for the course,” he said.
“I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents, and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child, and that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back,” Obama concluded.