Reid: Bergdahl's health irrelevant to trade

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday pushed back against doubts that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may not have been as ill as the administration claimed, calling the speculation irrelevant.

Some senators have postulated that Bergdahl was drugged in a December proof-of-life video from his Taliban captors, because he appeared to be in much better health when he was turned over to U.S. special forces.

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Reid declared, however, that President Obama made the right decision in releasing five Taliban commanders to secure the 28-year-old American's freedom, regardless of his medical condition.

“Let’s assume he was in vibrant health and he was faking all this. He is an American soldier; he’s been in captivity for five years. The war’s winding down — let’s bring him home. We did,” Reid said.

Republicans and some Democrats are pressing for an investigation into allegations of whether Bergdahl deserted his post in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Reid said their questions will be answered once Bergdahl recovers from his ordeal.

“If there are any other issues relating to him, as was so clearly explained, when he gets in a condition that they can stabilize his mental and physical situation, they’ll determine what more can be done,” he said.

Citing media reports, Reid noted that Bergdahl had been held in “deplorable” conditions and attempted to escape.

Reid also waved off complaints by colleagues, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), that President Obama failed to follow the law by not notifying Congress 30 days in advance of the trade.

“He made a decision to bring him home, and I’m glad he did because in my opinion, based on nothing that went on in the classified briefing — in my opinion, every day that [Bergdahl] was there was a day closer to his dying,” Reid said.

Bergdahl is receiving medical treatment in Germany, and his father, Robert, has warned that if he returns to regular life too quickly it could “kill him,” comparing his son to a diver who has spent a prolonged period underwater.

Reid also dismissed a question about why he had received preferential treatment over other congressional leaders. Reid said Tuesday he was told of the prisoner swap on Friday, a day before Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

“What difference does it make?” he said, calling the quibbling over the timeline “a big deal of a nothing.”

The Democratic leader also emphasized that not one of Obama’s senior military advisers disagreed with his decision to swap the five Taliban detainees for the American POW.