All-senators briefing on Bergdahl scheduled for tonight


Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive in Afghanistan for about five years. (U.S. Army via Associated Press)

Obama administration officials plan to meet Wednesday evening with senators to discuss the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The meeting will be held in a secure basement room of the Capitol Visitor Center, where similar briefings on national security matters have been held with lawmakers in the past year, including conversations about the deteriorating situations in Syria and Ukraine.

The meeting is open to all U.S. senators, but it is rare for all 100 to attend such gatherings. Those who show up will hear from James Dobbins, a State Department specialist on Afghanistan and Pakistan; Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work; Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Robert Cardillo, the deputy director of national intelligence, according to Senate aides.

The meeting comes as members of both parties continue to express concerns about President Obama's decision to swap five terrorism suspects detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Bergdahl.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), a leading GOP voice on foreign affairs and military policy, has been especially angered by the release of the detainees, saying they should have instead been transferred to facilities in the United States for further detention.

"Everybody knows they will be back in the fight," he told reporters. "These are the hardest of the hardest."

"We're winding down Guantanamo. I want to wind down Guantanamo, but that doesn't mean we want to release people who could be a huge risk," he added later.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that "as we take a closer look at the circumstances of this exchange, I hope that the facts, the law, and the history are not eclipsed by speculation or partisan rhetoric. The American people – including those who serve in the armed forces – deserve more from us."

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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