White House defends Taliban prisoner swap for freed soldier Bowe Bergdahl

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White House defends Taliban prisoner swap for freed soldier Bowe Bergdahl

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President Obama and his administration are coming under increased criticism over the release of five senior Taliban militants in exchange for a US soldier who had been held in Afghanistan for five years.

Some of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s former colleagues say he deserted his post, arguing that at least six fellow soldiers were later killed as the manhunt continued.

Republicans have warned that the prisoner swap creates a dangerous precedent and want a public hearing.

“The president violated a provision of law in not giving Congress advanced notice. While you can always argue that this was an emergency and he needed to act quickly, this pattern of violating the law is also a danger to national security,” said Congressman Mac Thornberry, a Representative from Texas.

Video has emerged which it is claimed shows the Taliban prisoners – thought to have been the most senior Afghans held at Guantanamo – arriving in Qatar.

The Gulf state had mediated in the negotiations over the exchange.

The White House has defended the deal as “absolutely the right thing to do”, saying the US doesn’t abandon its men and women in conflict.

“The Secretary of Defence (Chuck Hagel) made the conclusion that the mitigation efforts were sufficient when it came to the assurances we received from the Qataris and the communications we’ve had with them, that these five detainees do not and will not pose a significant threat to the United States,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Bowe Bergdahl is said to be in a stable condition as he recovers in hospital in Germany.

There have been calls for him to be brought to book for desertion.

But US military officers have said there is no evidence directly linking the deaths of American soldiers killed in combat to the search for the missing sergeant.