Kerry: Leaving soldier behind would be ‘offensive and incomprehensible’

Secretary of State John F. Kerry in an interview aired Sunday pushed back against criticism of the prisoner swap for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

“It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what,” Kerry said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of placing U.S. troops at greater risk by encouraging enemies to take prisoners for leverage, essentially putting a target on the backs of American troops.

Responding to those concerns, Kerry said that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is over and that "we’re going to have very few people in that kind of position.”

Republicans have also criticized the White House for freeing five Taliban commanders who were held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl. They say the former combatants are likely to lead enemy forces again.

Kerry downplayed that risk. “I am not telling you that they don’t have some ability at some point to go back and get involved, but they also have an ability to get killed if they do that,” he said.

At a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama said he made "absolutely no apologies" for the way Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was returned from Afghanistan. The Taliban released Bergdahl in exchange for five of their commanders. (WhiteHouse.gov)
Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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