WASHINGTON — California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) expressed concern Monday at the level of urgency surrounding the decision to swap five Taliban militants for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and questioned why other Americans in militant custody were not included in the deal.
“Knowing that various lines of effort were presented and still under consideration, none of which involved a disproportionate prisoner exchange, I am concerned by the sudden urgency behind the prisoner swap given other lines of effort offered the same opportunity for success,” Hunter wrote Monday in a letter to President Obama obtained by Breitbart News.
“These efforts should have been fully exhausted before any commitment to exchange prisoners was made,” he continued. “Now a situation has been created whereby prisoner exchanges specifically disproportionate exchanges — are viewed by the Taliban and other aligned forces as achievable.”
Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, further questioned why other Americans believed to be in militant custody were not included in the Bergdahl swap.
“My understanding is that three other Americans remain in the custody of militants aligned with the Taliban. Should this still be the case, I would like to know why these individuals were not included in the negotiations that resulted in the release of five detainees from Guantanamo Bay,” he wrote going on to urge the administration “expedite” efforts, that do no include more detainee releases, to bring them home as well.
A Hunter spokesman told Breitbart News that the three additional Americans in militant custody, to whom Hunter was referring include 72-year-old contractor Warren Weinstein, Caitlin Coleman and the child she was pregnant with when she and her Canadian husband disappeared in Afghanistan.
Hunter, in his letter, said that Bergdahl’s release was “welcome news” but stressed there will be concerns about the manner the government secured his release.
The California lawmaker added that while concerns for Bergdahl’s health was the reason the deal was expedited, he has been told there was no way to verify such health concerns.
“[S]everal sources with knowledge of the situation have informed me that any specifics about this health were nearly impossible to assess, unless otherwise stated by the Taliban in the days before a deal was reached — a deal that certainly favored the Taliban,” Hunter wrote.
He concluded by calling on the administration, in the future, to exhaust all other options “before entering into negotiations with such an untrustworthy partner.”
Monday morning House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon announced that his committee would be holding hearings on the matter.