President Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, said on ABC that Bowe Bergdahl "served the United States with honor and distinction" and that "Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield."
“Certainly anybody who's been held in those conditions, in captivity for five years, has paid an extraordinary price. But that is really not the point. The point is that he's back,” Rice told ABC host George Stephanopoulos when asked whether Bergdahl was a deserter and whether he'd face punishment.
“He is going to be safely reunited with his family. He served the United States with honor and distinction. And we’ll have the opportunity eventually to learn what has transpired in the past years, but what's most important now is his health and well being, that he have the opportunity to recover in peace and security and be reunited with his family. Which is why this is such a joyous day.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Rice says, "Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield." She adds, "We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance."
As Bill Kristol said this morning on TV, "There's a lot of reporting that he wasn't taken in battle. He seems to have deserted or at least gone AWOL. He may have cooperated with the enemy after they captured him. Soldiers have died trying to find him. His own platoon and his own battalion, company and battalion, seem to have come under a lot more attacks after he was taken. The degree of anger amongst soldiers, on email and on listservs, is unbelievable. And that needs to be taken seriously.
"Those are the people who fought, who fought in the same company in some cases, and who feel like they sacrificed to get this guy back who may have behaved at best irresponsibly and at worst worse. And we need to have honesty about that. There was a big Army investigation--what did Susan Rice know? What did President Obama know about the investigation about Bergdahl?
"It's one thing to trade terrorists for a real POW, someone who was taken on the battlefield fighting honorably for our country. It's another thing to trade away 5 high-ranking terrorists to someone who walked away."