WOODBURY - A Long Island military expert who oversaw U.S. troops in Iraq is weighing in on the exchange of five Taliban detainees for the last remaining American prisoner of war in Afghanistan.
Senators in Washington emerged after a briefing on the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Tuesday seemingly less convinced than ever regarding the wisdom behind the swap involving the high-level Taliban members.
They criticized the prisoner exchange, saying it may have emboldened the Taliban and put U.S. service members at higher risk of capture.
“You have to weigh the risk of the lives of our fellow servicemen and women who are serving,” said Sen. John McCain, of Arizona.
Retired Col. Mike Canders, of Nesconset, disagrees.
“I don't think the Taliban suddenly have decided now to put a lot of additional energy or effort to grab an American serviceman because they think they can strike a better deal. That risk always exists,” Canders told News 12.
However, Canders says lawmakers shouldn't have been kept in the dark while dozens in the Obama administration knew the details of the plan to free Sgt. Bergdahl.
“The administration needs to explain itself,” said Canders. “Why was it so urgent to make the swap without properly notifying Congress and letting others know what was going to happen? He was captured for five years so there was plenty of time to work through these details.”
U.S. law requires a 30-day notice to the House and the Senate before prisoners are transferred from Guantanamo Bay. The White House says it wanted to avoid leaks regarding the prisoner exchange.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to testify at a House Armed Services Committee Hearing Wednesday.