In an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” on Friday, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) reiterated remarks he made earlier this week in a congressional hearing condemning the United States swap of five Taliban for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
Cotton called the deal “terrible” but also took aim at the anonymous White House staffers that had spoken out against Bergdahl’s platoon mates that questioned labeling Bergdahl a “hero.”
“Well, I think this prisoner swap was a terrible deal for America and it is making American troops face greater danger in Afghanistan,” Cotton said. “What I find particularly appalling was the anonymous White House staffers criticizing the service of the platoon saying they were undisciplined or saying that they unfairly criticizing Pvt. Bergdahl for what was by all appearances deserting his units. These are anonymous staffers who spent the last 10 years patrolling the mean streets of the Georgetown cocktail party circuit. The closest most of them have ever come to a gun is a water pistol at the White House Easter Egg Roll. So, they need to come forward and speak in their own names or they need to just thank the soldiers of Blackfoot company for the services they perform and keeping them safe in Washington, D.C.”
Cotton said once Bergdahl has recovered medically, he should be held to account under the code justice, which should be devoid of any political considerations.
“Well, I understand he is still receiving medical care,” he continued. “And when he is medically cleared, his chain of command and his unit needs to decide whether to proceed with action under the uniform code of military justice. Like every American to include soldiers, he deserves to have his day on trial if he is accused of wrongdoing. What does not need to happen is the president or his senior civilian leaders or general officers of the Pentagon exerting unlawful command influence. This case should go forward based on the chain of command in his unit — not based on the president’s political considerations.”
On the broader issue of Iraq, Cotton said President Barack Obama’s gesture to send support personnel was a good for step. But he urged more action to prevent Iraq from becoming under al Qaeda control.
“Well, it’s a terrible tragedy,” Cotton added. “Almost 4,500 Americans gave their life in Iraq to defend our country to protect our national security. The president’s decision is a decent first step, but we are probably going to need to provide more support, more mentoring, more leverage over the Iraqi government whatever the government’s constitution is in the coming days and weeks to insure that we don’t have al Qaeda controlling much of Iraq and Syria. That is not why we fought in Iraq and it is dangerously for the American people.”
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