June 11, 2014 in Idaho

Raul Labrador: Leave Bowe Bergdahl family alone

By The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

Baldy Sports co-owner Sondra Van Ert ties balloons to a bike trailer in front of her store to celebrate the news of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release in Hailey, Idaho.
(Full-size photo)

Idaho Rep. 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 was asked about the issue Tuesday during a session with reporters in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

“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 hometown of Hailey, Idaho, canceled a planned welcome-home celebration amid security concerns after an outpouring of hate mail and protests. Critics have questioned whether the detainees released by the United States were too dangerous to be released. Some also have questioned whether Bergdahl deserted his post before he was captured.

Labrador said some prisoners eventually will have to be released.

“As we wind down, we have to decide what we’re going to do with the detainees in Guantanamo,” Labrador said. “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.”

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