Lawmakers had harsh words for the Obama administration in a House hearing on the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl swap Wednesday, with Rep. Tom Cotton calling the administration’s rationale “insulting and offensive.”
Bergdahl was released after five years in Taliban captivity after the administration agreed to swap five Guantanamo Taliban prisoners for his freedom. Since his release, controversy has swirled over the swap and accusations that Bergdahl deserted his post.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing was an open forum to discuss the prisoner swap, and featured testimony from lawmakers, soldiers who served with Bergdahl and Andy Andrews, the father of a soldier who was reportedly killed during the search for Bergdahl. No Obama administration officials appeared at the hearing.
Cotton, R-Ark., criticized the rationale behind the trade. He said the Obama administration’s assertion that it made the trade in order to never leave a comrade behind is “insulting and offensive.”
“When we made those promises to each other, we didn’t promise we would exchange five stone cold terrorists for each other,” Cotton, a veteran himself, said.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., echoed Cotton’s concerns, saying the swap makes Americans less safe.
“The president has put military personnel, diplomatic personnel at risk,” he said, “we have given terrorists the incentive to capture hostages more and more.”
The hearing took an emotional turn when Andrews, in sometimes tearful testimony, said he was told by other soldiers that the search for Bergdahl was a contributing factor in the death of his son, Second Lt. Darryn Deen Andrews. He said the fact that Taliban members were traded to free Bergdahl only adds to his pain.
“Exactly why did my son die?” Andrews said. “Tell me one more time. Because I don’t know what was accomplished.”
The lawmakers also heard from soldiers who served with Bergdahl, including retired Army Spc. Cody Full. Cotton asked Full if he believed Bergdahl shared policies and procedures with the enemy while in captivity, either after breaking under testimony or even perhaps willingly.
Full said he couldn’t know, but that ambushes against American troops picked up right after Bergdahl disappeared.
“I do know that after he left, ambushes picked up … they were hitting us hard,” he said.
Bergdahl was brought to Texas from an Army medical facility in Germany last week, where he had been recovering.
Fox News' Kara Rowland and The Associated Press contributed to this report