Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador is calling for people to “leave the Bergdahl family alone” as the nation debates the prisoner swap that freed Idaho Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years of Taliban captivity.
Labrador, who’s been relatively quiet on the issue since Bergdahl’s release a week ago, was asked about the issue during a session with reporters in Washington, D.C. this morning co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
“Sgt. Bergdahl and his family, they’re from my state, and I know the family pretty well, and I have been very careful in my statements to the media about this because I don’t think we should criticize the sergeant right now,” the second-term Idaho Republican said. “We don’t know all the details of why he left, whether he left voluntarily, and I think we should be very careful as members of Congress to not escalate the rhetoric that leads to Americans trying to decide what happened in this case.”
“We should concentrate on the exchange, whether that exchange should have been done or not, and … leave the Bergdahl family alone,” Labrador declared.
The family has received threats that are being investigated by the FBI; Bergdahl’s home town of Hailey, Idaho canceled a planned welcome-home celebration amid security concerns after an outpouring of hate mail and protests, over everything from whether five Taliban officials held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center should have been released in exchange for Bergdahl, to whether the young soldier deserted his post before his capture in Afghanistan.
Labrador said, “As we wind down, we have to decide what we’re going to do with the detainees in Guantanamo. Some of them are going to be prosecuted, if they have committed prosecutable acts. Some of them are being detained under different classifications, and some of them are going to have to be released if we don’t have any actionable intelligence on them. The question really is should these five have been released at this time, and I think that’s … what I think most people object to.”
“But there’s no question that if we’re going to wind down the war and we’re going to end the war in Afghanistan, that some of these people are going to have to be released,” Labrador said, “and I think we all need to understand that.”