By Justin Sink - 06/02/14 07:59 AM EDT
Americans should not be concerned that the Taliban has declared a prisoner swap freeing five Guantánamo Bay detainees in exchange for captured U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a victory, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
The White House spokesman said the administration believed the release of five Guantánamo detainees was “not a security threat to the United States” and that efforts had been made to mitigate any security risk they might pose.
According to White House officials, the five Taliban detainees, which included a pair of senior militant commanders, will be subject to security restrictions, including a one-year travel ban.
“We do believe and have confidence that the measures put in place ... allow us to feel that the threat is sufficiently mitigated,” Carney told CNN.
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar called the prisoner exchange a “great victory” in a statement on Sunday.
“We shall thank almighty for this great victory,” he said, according to NBC News. “The sacrifice of our Mujahedin have resulted in the release of our senior leaders from the hand of the enemy.”
The prisoner exchange has come under fire from Republican lawmakers, who charge that the U.S. has set a dangerous precedent that it will negotiate with terrorists.
But the press secretary told NBC that this was “absolutely a situation with a long history and precedent where we engage in exchange of prisoners in an armed conflict.”
“He was held in an armed conflict with the Taliban, we were engaged in an armed conflict with the Taliban,” Carney added on CNN.
The White House spokesman also dismissed questions about whether Bergdahl had walked off his base in Afghanistan. Some fellow soldiers have accused Bergdahl of desertion, and expressed anger of the lives lost searching for him.
“Here’s what matters,” Carney said. “He was a prisoner in an armed conflict, a member of the military, and in that situation, the United States does not leave its men and women behind.”