By Russell Berman - 06/10/14 10:44 AM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday harshly criticized the swap of five Taliban detainees for one U.S. soldier, saying the U.S. would “pay” for President Obama’s decision to negotiate with terrorists.
At a Capitol press conference, Boehner spoke publicly for the first time about the exchange that brought Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl back to his family five years after he disappeared in Afghanistan.
“We’re glad that Bergdahl is back, but the biggest issue here is the violation of the policy that the United States has had for many, many years that we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Boehner said. “The fact is that we have violated that policy and, as a result, we have made Americans less safe here and all around the world. And we’re going to pay for this. There is not any doubt in my mind that there are going to be costs of … lost lives associated with what came out of this.”
The administration released five top Taliban officials from the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl.
House Republicans were angry after a classified briefing on Monday night with Obama administration officials yielded little new information. And the Speaker dismissed the administration’s argument that it did not tell congressional leaders about the exchange ahead of time out of fears that a leak of the news would threaten Bergdahl’s safety.
Boehner said that while he spoke to the administration about the possibility of securing Bergdahl’s release in 2011 and 2012, the discussions were not detailed and he was not updated when negotiated ramped back up this year.
By contrast, he said he was briefed numerous times on the clandestine effort to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden, including in the days before the U.S. military operation that took him down in 2011.
“This idea that they couldn't trust us to not leak things was just not true,” Boehner said.