Republicans are weighing in on the US-Taliban trade that yesterday set POW Bowe Bergdahl free, and they are decidedly not in favor. A sample of reactions on today's talk shows, as per Politico:
- Mike Rogers: "The No. 1 way that al-Qaeda raises money is by ransom—kidnapping and ransom. We have now set a price. If you negotiate here, you’ve sent a message to every al-Qaeda group in the world that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn’t have before."
- Ted Cruz: "I do not think the way to deal with terrorists is through releasing other violent terrorists. It's not the only way. We can go in and use military force, as needed, to rescue our fallen compatriots." And further, "The idea that we're now making trades ... says the reason why the US has had the policy for decades of not negotiating with terrorists is because once you start doing it, every other terrorist has an incentive to capture more soldiers."
- John McCain: "It is disturbing that these individuals would have the ability to re-enter the fight, and they are big, high-level people, possibly responsibly for the deaths of thousands." He said that while "we're all grateful" for Bergdahl's release, the five detainees are the "hardest of the hardcore."
- Rep. Adam Kinzinger: The Illinois Republican, who is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, says, "the release of five mid- to high-level Taliban is shocking to me, especially not coming to Congress. And then putting five people potentially back on the battlefield. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked here."
Meanwhile, Chuck Hagel continued his full-throated defense of the deal and the administration again sent Susan Rice in. Highlights from their appearances this morning:
- Hagel: "I’ll stand by that decision. I signed off on that decision. The president made the ultimate decision. This is a guy who probably went through hell the last five years. Let’s focus on getting him well and getting him back with his family."
- And further: "We hope it will present an opening" for further talks with the Taliban, who broke off negotiations in 2012. "We’ve had no relationship since then, so maybe this will be a new opening that can produce an agreement."
- And Rice, per CNN: "What we did was ensure that, as always, the United States doesn't leave a man or a woman on the battlefield. Because it was the Taliban that had him did not mean that we had any less of an obligation to bring him back." She called obtaining Bergdahl's freedom a "sacred obligation."
- And even Claire McCaskill: "This was not a hostage; this was a prisoner of war. It is much different when you are negotiating with the enemy for a prisoner of war. We have done prisoner swaps many times in our nation’s history. Unfortunately, this is our enemy now. We don’t have nation-states as our enemies, we have terrorist organizations as our enemies."