John McCain Was For Trading Taliban Prisoners For Sgt. Bergdahl Before He Was Against It
In the days since Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed from Taliban captivity in exchange for five prisoners held at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, one of the strongest critics of the deal has been Arizona Senator John McCain:
Current and former U.S. officials welcomed the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, but voiced concern about the release of five members of the Taliban who had been held at the Guantanamo Bay as part of a negotiated prisoner swap.
“These are the hardest of the hard core. These are the highest high-risk people, and others that we have released have gone back into the fight,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in an interview on “Face the Nation,” adding that he was disturbed the Taliban named the prisoners they wanted in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom.
“We need to know more information about the conditions of where they are going to be,” McCain added. “It is disturbing that these individuals would have the ability to reenter the fight.”
For McCain, the chief concern is what will happen to the detainees once they are released.
“If they reenter the fight then it is going to put American lives at risk and none of us want that to happen…if they are able to have after a year in Qatar to do whatever they want to do there’s no doubt they will reenter the fight,” he said.
Interestingly, McCain was singing a different tune four months ago:
Sen. John McCain says he now would be inclined to support trading a Taliban prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay for a U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan.
In 2012, McCain called the idea of negotiating with the Taliban “bizarre” and “highly questionable,” but on Tuesday he said on CNN’s ”Anderson Cooper 360″ that he would be open to a swap now being discussed.
U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been held by a group with ties to the Taliban for almost four years, and the group has demanded the United States release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for him.
The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials confirmed that talks among diplomats and the Pentagon were under way. The official U.S. policy is not to negotiate with terrorists, but the military is winding down operations there by the end of the year and could risk leaving Bergdahl behind, CNN noted.
McCain said his stance has changed only because the previous proposal was to release five “hard-core” Taliban leaders as a “confidence-building measure.” The current proposal would be an actual exchange of prisoners.
“I would be inclined to support such a thing, depending on a lot of details,” he said.
What a difference four months makes.
Update: There’s also been some flip-flopping on this issue from the White House.