Bowe Bergdahl, the only American prisoner of war from the conflict in Afghanistan, was freed on Saturday and President Obama personally reached out to his family to relay the news.
"This morning, I called Bob and Jani Bergdahl and told them that after nearly five years in captivity, their son Bowe is coming home," Obama said during a press conference on Saturday evening. The couple, who have relentlessly pushed for their son’s release, joined Obama in the Rose Garden, flanking him as he spoke of the country’s devotion to recovering POWs.
The U.S. maintains “an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoners of war home,” Obama said. “That's who we are as Americans… Today, at least in this instance, it's a promise we've been able to keep."
American officials secured the release of Bergdahl, a 28-year-old Army sergeant, in exchange for five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The five militants “are considered to be among the most senior militants at Guantánamo and would otherwise be among the last to leave,” The New York Times reported.
The announcement pushed another military issue — a major scandal involving mismanagement in VA hospitals — out of the spotlight, at least for a day.
Addressing the press on Saturday, Obama focused on the plight of prisoners of war. "I am mindful, though, that there are many troops who remain missing," he said. "That's why we're never going to forget. We're never going to give up our search."
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.