- The Washington Times
Thursday, June 5, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that regardless of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s health, President Obama made the right call to win his release by exchanging five Taliban warriors.

The White House has said the sergeant’s deteriorating health was a key reason why Mr. Obama had to act speedily — potentially violating several laws governing the release of detainees at Guantanamo Bay — to make the exchange.

Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said he doesn’t have a final judgment on Sgt. Bergdahl’s health but said Mr. Obama was right to act no matter what.

“Let’s assume he was in vibrant health and he was faking all this — he’s an American soldier, he’s been in captivity five years. The war’s winding down, let’s bring him home, we did,” Mr. Reid said.

Senators on Wednesday viewed a “proof-of-life” video of the sergeant, provided by his captors.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said he’s reviewed the intelligence and seen the videos and still questions that part of the president’s rationale for making the deal.

SEE ALSO: Congress twice rejected release of Taliban from Gitmo in trade for Bergdahl

“They have simply not made a case that his health had deteriorated to the point where they needed to get him out of there,” the Georgia Republican said.

Mr. Reid, speaking to reporters, also found himself on the defensive over when he was alerted about the swap.

Initially Mr. Reid said he’d been alerted on Friday, which would have made him the only member of Congress to get a day’s advance notice. Mr. Chambliss, one of those who’s supposed to be given a notification on these kinds of operations, wasn’t officially notified until Monday, two days after the swap — when the administration apologized for leaving him out of the loop.

Mr. Reid has since somewhat walked back his claim of an early notification, but said Thursday that it’s a non-issue.

“I’m not sure I’m the only one,” he said. “I mean, that’s made a big deal over nothing. The whole deal is, is it Friday or Saturday? What difference does it make?”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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