President Obama Defends Bergdahl Swap: 'We Saw an Opportunity'
Obama also admits the possibility that the Taliban members could return to the fight.
President Obama defended the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl this morning at a news conference in Warsaw alongside the president of Poland.
“The U.S. has always had a pretty sacred rule, and that is we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind. And that dates back to the earlier days of our Revolution," he said, adding that he would not have authorized the swap if he believed it was "contrary to American national security."
“We saw an opportunity. We were concerned about Sgt. Bergdahl’s health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange and we seized that opportunity," the president said, pointing out that Congress has been briefed for "quite some time about the possibility" that there would be a prisoner swap for Bergdahl.
Obama was asked about the many accounts in recent days about Bergdahl deserting his unit.
“Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity, period. Full stop. We don’t condition that. That’s what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over to the war theater should expect, not just from their commander in chief but the United States of America," said Obama.
He went on to say that prisoner exchanges like this one are typical of the end of wars.
“That was true for George Washington. That was true for Abraham Lincoln. That was true for FDR. That’s been true in every combat situation. At some point you try to get your folks back."
In addition to questions about Bergdahl's desertion, the administration has faced criticism for agreeing to release five members of the Taliban leadership from Gitmo in order to secure Bergdahl's release.
"We will be keeping eyes on them," said Obama, adding there is a "structure" in place for Qatari authorities and the U.S. to monitor their activities. He said "absolutely" there is the possibility that the Taliban members could eventually return to the battlefield.
Watch President Obama's remarks above, and stay tuned to Fox News for complete coverage of the Bergdahl exchange throughout the day. Check back on Fox News Insider for the latest reaction and insights from Fox News.
Judge Andrew Napolitano gave us some immediate reaction to Obama's remarks on Fox and Friends, saying there are a "lot of legal issues" at play in this case. Napolitano explained that the president signed a law that says if any Guantanamo Bay prisoner is to be released, Congress must have 30 days notice.
Some lawmakers have said they did not receive notice on the swap. He also noted the law that makes it a felony to provide material support to terrorist organizations, arguing the most likely result is these former Gitmo detainees returning to the fight.
"The president has done what his Justice Department has successfully prosecuted for," said Napolitano, who added that Bergdahl should "certainly face inquiry" over his alleged desertion and believes the government has probably already started it.
"They had to know this [about Bergdahl's actions]. ... This is really almost the worst conceivable poster boy for the president saying, 'nobody will be left behind," said Napolitano.
Watch his full analysis below:
Get more on Bergdahl's release from Fox News: