State Department spokeswoman Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France Psaki says White House offered 'early stage call' to Nicki Minaj Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE defended the White House’s prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Wednesday, just hours after the Army announced that it would charge him with desertion.
“Was it worth it? Absolutely,” she said on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” in an interview that will air Wednesday night.
"We have a commitment to our men and women serving overseas, or in our military, defending our national security every day, that we will do everything we can to bring them home, and that’s what we did in this case."
Psaki, who has worked at the State Department since 2013, is moving over to the White House next week to serve as communications director. She previously worked in the White House during President Obama’s first term.
Obama agreed to the deal last year that exchanged five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl. Many Republicans criticized the swap for freeing potentially dangerous prisoner from Guantanamo Bay, and over accusations that Bergdahl may have deserted his post before his capture.
Psaki wouldn’t address whether Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice was wrong to say that Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction” after his release. She said that the president was “familiar” with the desertion accusations before he agreed to the deal, but said the White House wants to let the military justice system play out without “prejudging” that outcome.
Fox News reported earlier on Wednesday that at least three of the former Guantanamo prisoners who were released tried to contact former terrorist sources on the Internet.
As part of the release, the prisoners had to remain in Qatar for one year. The New York Times reported that Qatar promised to keep them out of the public eye and ensure that they don’t contact other terrorist groups.
Psaki didn’t dispute the report of the prisoners reaching out to terrorists on the Internet, but said that the only reason American officials know about it is because intelligence is keeping a watchful eye over the former Taliban leaders.
“We have the ability to track and work with the Qataris, we know that individuals were reportedly online and engaging with individuals they shouldn’t be,” she said.
“Because we track it! It means the system of tracking works.”