Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged on Sunday the possibility that the five Guantánamo Bay detainees released in a prisoner swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could return to terrorism.
"And I don't think anybody should doubt the capacity of Americans to protect Americans," Kerry added, saying it was "baloney" to argue that more troops in Afghanistan would be hurt as a result of the release.
The swap of five Taliban detainees for Bergdahl has sparked fierce criticism from Republicans, who have expressed anger at the 28-year-old soldier's alleged desertion and the potential that the freed detainees could return to combat.
One of those detainees has said he plans to return to fighting against the U.S.
But Kerry said the U.S. is monitoring the released Taliban fighters and that "they're not the only ones keeping an eye on them." And he emphasized that the U.S. is capable of dealing with the prisoners if they do return to terrorism, declaring "these guys pick a fight with us … at enormous risk."
Ultimately, Kerry defended the choice in much the same way President Obama has, as one central to the core values of the military and the U.S.
"What I know today is what the president of the United States knows, that it would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what, to leave an American behind in the hands of people who would torture him, cut of his head, do any number of things," he said. "And we would consciously choose to do that? That's the other side of this equation. I don't think anybody would think that's an appropriate thing to do."