T he prisoner exchange of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl for five members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo is surfacing as an issue in the Congressional race between Democratic Congressman Dan Maffei and his Republican challenger John Katko.
When asked for his opinion about the Bergdahl prisoner swap at an unrelated event at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday, Maffei replied, "Certainly I have concerns, I think most Americans have concerns when they see potential terrorists being released even under an agreement with Qatar."
Katko feels Maffei should have taken a stronger stance. "Concern is too mild a word. He should be outraged as a member of Congress. The protocol is for Congress to be consulted on this. He (Obama) may have broken the law I'm not sure yet." He added, "I disagree with what he did because it sets a very dangerous precedent for the United States."
Much of the national debate centers on two conflicting policies: Leave no soldier behind, and Never negotiate with terrorists. Maffei told reporters, "I think they're both extremely important and I don't think you can give either one up that's why I'm interested in hearing the details."
When asked about those conflicting concepts, Katko said, "I empathize with that completely. It's a very difficult decision but I'm not aware of any exception to We don't negotiate with terrorists."
M affei is in a position to act on his concerns. Next week, Maffei says he will be able to question Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel when he appears before the Armed Services Committee of which Maffei is a member "We'll be asking a lot of questions both sides of the aisle about why they felt this was necessary. I'm glad that a prisoner is back to the United States or on his way back to the United States, i think that's very important. Until we know all the facts I'm going to refrain from criticizing but I certainly do have concerns about the way this was done."
K atk o, a former federal prosecutor , also is concerned about reports that Sergeant Bergdahl may have been a deserter when he was captured. "I don't think this individual should go without scrutiny once he gets home. We need to find if he left his post. If he did, he needs to be prosecuted."