Not surprisingly, many senators are furious over the recent prisoner swap, after they gave up five Taliban leaders in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held captive by the Taliban for five years. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina went as far as to threaten impeachment of Obama if he used this as an opening to shutter Guantanamo. Late yesterday, officials from the State Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies briefed lawmakers so that they could ease the criticism of the deal. However, the briefing seemed to do little to quell concerns that the five Taliban leaders would go on to attack Americans.
While the majority of concerned senators were Republican, some of them included Democrats; Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said that he left the briefing with more questions than answers. Lawmakers from both parties have accused the Obama administration of breaking the law by not giving them a 30 days’ notice of the impending release of the five Taliban leaders, which has alienated a lot of Republcians. In addition, many military men claim Bergdahl deserted before his 2009 capture, sparking even further controversy. Congressmen are almost positive that the recently-released Taliban members will return to the battlefield to fight Americans, a concern that has plagued lawmakers since the idea of a prisoner swap first arose two years earlier. During the briefing, the congressmen said that officials showed them a short Taliban video that proved Bergdahl was alive, and that the footage indicated his deteriorating health. While most people agree that Bergdahl didn’t look too good in the video, they also felt that Obama handled the situation poorly.
Senator Graham hinted that the administration threw around a theory that this prisoner exchange would help in further peace talks with the Taliban, but he has misgivings about the logic behind this, which has made him even more concerned than he was before the swap.