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Questions Loom on Wisdom of US-Taliban Swap

09-08-2014
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The soldier held captive by Taliban forces for five years is now recovering at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's freedom, however, came at a hefty price for the United States.

President Barack Obama released five high-risk Taliban fighters from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for him.

Now the joy of Bergdahl's release is giving way to serious questions about the wisdom of the prisoner swap.

Leading Republicans say the deal breaks U.S. policy of not negotiating with terrorists and in turn it gives terrorists more incentive to take U.S. hostages.

And that's not the only risk.

"I think the big issue here is what is going to happen to these five individuals," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told CBS's "Face the Nation." "If they reenter the fight, then it is going to put American lives at risk."

Meanwhile, the Taliban is celebrating the release of those five detainees, which includes a senior military commander, a Taliban army chief of staff, and a high-ranking intelligence official.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar released a letter extending his "heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation for this big victory."

The last senior Taliban official released from Guantanamo Bay was Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, in 2007. He later returned to Afghanistan and became director of military operations.

There are also questions of whether the prisoner exchange was legal.

By law, Congress must be notified 30 days before any prisoner is released from Guantanamo Bay.

But the president didn't tell Congress. The White House justified the move, saying it didn't have 30 days because of Bergdhal's failing health.

"We needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said.

Sgt. Bergdahl is now said to be in good condition.

Meanwhile, his parents and residents of his hometown of Hailey, Idaho, are simply glad to know their native son will soon leave the military hospital in Germany and head home.

"We praise God for your freedom," his mother, Jani Bergdahl, said.

"Give yourself all the time you need to recover and decompress. There's no hurry," she said. "I will see you soon my beloved son. I love you Bowe."

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