Ros-Lehtinen Confirms She Objected to Prisoner Swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2011 While She Was Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee

Jun 3, 2014 Issues: Defense Abroad, Foreign Affairs

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement regarding reports that there was opposition to the Obama Administration’s suggestion of a potential prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl that dates back to 2011. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Although it’s good that an American soldier has been released from the Taliban’s custody, there are many lingering questions about the manner in which he was first captured and what he has been doing since. As Speaker Boehner has already pointed out in his press release, there was a classified briefing over two years ago with the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the pertinent national security committee in attendance. I was Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time and participated in the briefing that was, as reported by the press, conducted by officials from the National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department, CIA and the Director of National Intelligence. I can reaffirm that I, and many of my colleagues, strongly stated our opposition to any deal for Sgt. Bergdahl that would in any way benefit the Taliban or jeopardize the safety and security of our brave men and women in uniform who placed their lives on the line day in and day out to protect their fellow servicemen and women, our country, and our national security interests.

“I echo the sentiments of Speaker Boehner and my other colleagues who are calling the Administration’s into account over its handling of this whole sordid affair. The White House has plenty of questions that it must answer, not just to Congress or the American people, but to our men and women in uniform whose security may now be compromised. I’m outraged and disgusted that, over the past week, the Administration, without consulting Congress, would legitimize Hamas by supporting its PA unity scheme and now embolden the Taliban by swapping these five terrorists for Sgt. Bergdahl and breaking the solemn promise that we will not negotiate with terrorists.”

NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen had not spoken of this classified briefing until this point when it was made public by media reports and confirmed by Speaker Boehner, despite the fact that Administration officials had leaked the possibility of this swap on previous occasions.