Kirk: President Wrong To Swap Five Taliban Members For Captive U.S. Soldier
(CBS) – Illinois’ Republican U.S. senator, Mark Kirk, is condemning the five-for-one prisoner swap that freed captive soldier Bowe Bergdahl.
Kirk says it endangers military and diplomatic personnel stationed around the world.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine spoke with the senator via satellite Thursday afternoon.
He did not mince words.
Kirk says President Obama made a mistake on behalf of a man whose actions may have already cost Americans their lives — a mistake that could prove fatal to other Americans as well.
The Taliban video of the Bergdahl release, Kirk says, actually shows him to be in better shape than the video shown privately to senators yesterday — proof demanded by the president before he approved the exchange.
“I felt like it was a part of the manipulation of the president to tug at his heartstrings to go ahead and release these senior (Taliban) commanders,” Kirk says.
Obama has said: “We saw an opportunity, and we seized it and I make no apologies for that.”
Illinois’ senior Sen. Dick Durbin, like Obama, a Democrat, agrees.
“Many who want to dismiss this and say we have suspicions about this man, those questions will be ultimately answered, but the premise was sound: Bring our troops home,” he says in a statement.
But Dr. Joseph Troiani, a psychologist and former Navy commander, says the questions are real and relevant.
“He — for lack of a better term, flipped out,” he says.
Kirk says freeing five Taliban leaders in exchange for someone who simply walked away sets a very dangerous precedent.
“The United States has tremendous overseas presence, and each one of those Americans is more in danger because of this swap,” says Kirk.
He adds the deal could spur kidnappings of Americans.