Obama defends Bergdahl agreement, dismisses critics

BRUSSELS — President Obama said Thursday he will not apologize for the agreement that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and he dismissed critics who have attacked the agreement that freed five Taliban detainees.

"I'm never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington," Obama during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. "That's par for the course."

Saying the United States should not leave any soldier behind on the battlefield, Obama said: "We saw an opportunity and we seized it and I make no apologies for it."

The Obama administration released five Taliban members from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for the release of Bergdahl after nearly five years in captivity.

Some congressional Republicans criticized the deal, saying it might encourage the Taliban to kidnap more Americans.

Members of Congress from both parties faulted the administration for not providing proper notice that it intended to release prisoners from Gitmo.

Obama said lawmakers knew that a prisoner swap was possible and that his administration acted quickly out of concern for the state of Bergdahl's health.

Some troops who served in Afghanistan have accused Bergdahl of deserting his post, a claim administration officials have disputed.


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