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Cole Statement on Release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl

June 2, 2014
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following statement after the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who was captured by the Taliban in 2009. Bergdahl was released by the Taliban on Saturday in exchange for five senior Taliban leaders who were detained by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. 

“Especially in times of war, we are grateful for the men and women who courageously volunteered their service in our military to preserve and defend freedom,” said Cole. “Whether serving on our own soil or directly in harm’s way overseas, the lives of our military are invaluable. Undoubtedly, we certainly understand the relief felt by the family of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was released from the captivity of terrorists after nearly five years.

“While Americans always celebrate the return of one of our own soldiers from captivity, the manner in which the release of Sergeant Bergdahl was achieved diminishes the safety of other Americans serving in harm's way while increasing the risks of future acts of terror and hostage taking by terrorists operating in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe. More importantly, the recent action by the Administration violates a cardinal rule of American diplomacy. The United States does not negotiate with terrorists nor do we bargain for hostages. 

“Even more concerning, the president did not notify Congress of his intention to engage in this exchange, which directly violates current law requiring notification and threat assessment of such transfers at least 30 days in advance. Because the president acted alone, rather than consulting Congress, he has put our nation and world in greater danger. Moreover, he has ignited a domestic debate that will confuse our friends, embolden our enemies and divide our country. That could have been avoided had the president followed the law and consulted with Congress before he engaged in this ill-advised prisoner exchange.” 

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Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165