Rubio: Obama’s Taliban Prisoner Swap ‘Has Endangered Americans’

By Patrick Goodenough | June 5, 2014 | 1:55 AM EDT

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl stands with a Taliban fighter in eastern Afghanistan shortly before his handover to U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad/AP Video)

( – The Obama administration’s exchange of five senior Taliban prisoners for a captured U.S. soldier has endangered “countless American men and women in uniform across the globe,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday.

“What the president has done here send a very clear message, and an incentive, that if you can get your hands on an American serviceman and woman, you can trade them for as many as five terrorists,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

The dangers were not limited to Afghanistan, Rubio suggested.

“This has sent a very powerful message to enemies of America across the globe, from Iran to North Korea, to of course all these non-state actors in North Africa and the Middle East, that there’s great value in capturing Americans because if you do, you can get some of your own prisoners released.”

Rubio also voiced concern about the future activities of the terrorists who were released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay at the weekend and flown to Qatar, predicting that at least some of the five “are going to return right back to the battlefield and proceed to continue to attack and plot to kill Americans.”

Amid allegations that the freed American, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, may have been a deserter, Rubio declined to criticize him, saying if there were reasons to bring charges against him that was up to the military’s criminal justice system.

“I’m not here to criticize Sgt. Bergdahl. I think we’re all happy that he’s [going to be] back with his family,” he said. “What I criticize is the process the president has followed, because it has endangered Americans now and in the future.”

Asked whether he had inside information about the deal the administration struck with Qatar, Rubio said the administration’s notification to Congress remained classified at this point.

“Suffice it to say I am concerned about the ability or the willingness of the Qatar government to monitor these individuals,” he said, adding that that was why he anticipates that at least some of the five will return to the fight.

“If you understand anything about this region of the world, once these individuals are released there it’s going to be really difficult, even if they [the Qataris] really wanted to, to monitor them and their communications.”

Earlier Wednesday Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned that Republicans could call for President Obama’s impeachment if more Guantanamo Bay prisoners were freed without the congressional approval required by U.S. law.

Asked by Blitzer whether he would support such calls, Rubio said he was not sure that was the right approach – “and to be honest with you I’m not sure there’s many people here who are focused on that right now.”

“I’m not at this point calling for impeachment,” he said. “This president has two years left of his term. We hope they pass quickly, that we’ll somehow have a majority here in the Senate so that we can limit the amount of damage he’s doing to our economy and to our national security.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow