Dem. leader assails GOP over soldier swap

The Taliban have released a video showing the handover of American soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. (Courtesy: Associated Press YouTube)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Democrat in the Senate on Wednesday accused Republicans of trying to score political points with their criticism of President Barack Obama over the swap of an American solider for five members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid read aloud past statements from Senate Republicans who had said no member of the armed forces should be left behind and then challenged the GOP for now denouncing the exchange of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the five detainees.

“The safe return of an American soldier should not be used for political points,” Reid said. “When a man or woman puts on the uniform as a United States servicemen, they have America’s uncompromising support.”

Reid said questions regarding Bergdahl’s disappearance should be addressed by the Army, not the “Monday morning quarterbacks” on Capitol Hill.

“Whatever the results of the military’s inquiries, it doesn’t change the fact that one more American solider is home safe. What was the alternative? Would any American honestly prefer that a U.S. soldier remain in captivity until all the questions have been answered?” Reid asked. “Of course not. In the United States, we rescue our soldiers first and ask questions later.”

He said the alternative to the swap would have been to leave Bergdahl with the Taliban.

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance as required by law and for sending five Taliban officials to Qatar. Some Democrats also have questioned the exchange.

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