Rep. Mike Rogers attacked the administration for failing to consult members of Congress before conducting the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and made the claim that there were other options available to them than trading for members of the Taliban.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Sunday slammed the Obama administration's decision to negotiate for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl without first consulting Congress.
Rogers argued that the White House had other options besides releasing five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for the American prisoner of war, and that the administration acted without notifying Congress because they knew there would be dissenters.
"There are other options. And this was what so angered for those of us who have followed this for years," he said on ABC's "This Week." "The administration has this theory that you're either with them or you're for thermonuclear war and there's not in between. That's just wrong."
"And so the reason they avoided Congress, this isn't about we didn't get invited to the party, so we shouldn't have our feelings hurt. It is because we can empower all of the people -- diplomats -- who disagreed with this decision, intelligence folks who disagreed with this decision, military folks," he continued.
Of course Stepho didn't bother to press him on just what those options are supposed to be. As Justin at PoliticusUSA noted, what we really have here is just "another example of a Republican twisting themselves into knots in an attempt to make the recovery of an American solider into a huge scandal to damage the President."
During yet another appearance on a Sunday show, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) appeared on ABC’s This Week to discuss the prisoner exchange that allowed the United States to retrieve Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last American prisoner of war, from the Taliban. Rogers, who appeared as a guest on Sunday shows more times than anyone else in 2013, insisted that now was not the right time to bring Bergdahl home. He also stated that he would not have traded the Gitmo detainees to obtain Bergdahl and that the White House should have looked at other options to obtain Bergdahl’s release. He said this despite the fact that the White House and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have insisted that there were no other options available at this time or the immediate future.
If it were up to Rogers, we’d never have retrieved Bergdahl. In his opinion, it is already a mistake that the President has said that the United States will completely leave Afghanistan by 2016. In his mind, we should be there indefinitely. At the same time, he states that you can’t trade prisoners during a period of hostility. Therefore, in Rogers’ view of the world, our prisoners of war can only be obtained via rescue missions or by the good grace of our enemy. Read on...
Rogers won't have to worry about this for a whole lot longer, since he's gearing up to be the next Rush Limbaugh once his term ends.
Full transcript of Rogers remarks above via ABC.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lots of questions now for the chair of the House intelligence committee Mike Rogers. He joins us now. And congressman, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Let's begin with those five Taliban leaders in Qatar right now. You've seen the intelligence on these five men. What's your sense of what they'll do after this year is up?
ROGERS: Well, and we're not even sure they'll -- they'll wait a year. Their real value in the next 51 weeks is propaganda by the Taliban. We've already seen that start.
So they can meet with the Taliban political leaders in Qatar. They can have family members travel to Qatar and back to Pakistan and Afghanistan and we believe that's certainly an opportunity for a courier network, to get them prepared for what's next.
I don't think you'll see any operational activity right now by them. They're smart enough to -- to know better. But it allows them to proper for what's next. And that's going to be join the fight against what Americans are left in Afghanistan in 51 weeks.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're convinced of that?
ROGERS: I am convinced, absolutely convinced of that. We've already seen, both in their rhetoric and their actions, and certainly the information that we see coming out of the Taliban, including the Haqqani network in Pakistan, would suggest that's absolutely going to happen, maybe all not -- not all five. But I do believe three, for sure, likely four. And that fifth one is on the fence, but will probably play some role in...
ROGERS: -- in active operations...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- but is there anything we can do...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- to prevent that?
ROGERS: I -- well, unfortunately, the deal is done. And that's what -- what is the problem. Here. And I think here's one thing about this, George. The focus have all been should -- you know, is this -- is one soldier worth it, it -- not worth it?
I think that completely misses the problem here. This is a huge regional and geopolitical problem for the United States moving forward. Hostages are now currency in this war on terror. That's always dangerous for both diplomats, aide workers, soldiers on the battlefield.
But secondly, think about what happened in the last week. America said we're leaving in 2016 completely. We negotiated with the terrorist Haqqani network. Oh, and by the way, this happened before the election even occurred.
This weekend, this weekend, the Taliban tried to assassinate one of the political leaders, Abdullah Abdullah, who's running for office in Afghanistan. This was the wrong message at the wrong time and we are going to pay for this decision for years.
Again, this shouldn't be about did -- did Congress get invited to the party. This is all...
ROGERS: -- about this -- this honest discussion about what the ramifications of this (INAUDIBLE)...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're very clear. You've -- you've been very clear. You said you would never have made the trade.
But what about that bedrock principle of the soldier's creed, I will never leave a fallen comrade?
ROGERS: But the problem, George, is that hostilities haven't stopped. Normally, that's if the hostilities have stopped. There are other options. And this was what so angered for those of us who have followed this for years. This was not the only option that was available to...
STEPHANOPOULOS: The administration says it was.
ROGERS: -- no, well, the administration has this theory that you're either with them or you're for thermonuclear war and there's not in between. That's just wrong. And so the reason they avoided Congress, this isn't about we didn't get invited to the party, so -- so we shouldn't have our feelings hurt, it is because we can empower all of the people -- diplomats -- who disagreed with this decision, uh, intelligence folks who disagreed with this decision, military folks. That voice never got heard in the final discussions leading up to this deal.
That's why you engage with Congress. We can empower those voices. We can get those questions asked so you don't make a mistake that actually might jeopardize diplomats, aide workers and soldiers as we move forward.
And that's what my fear is, as we move forward in this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If Bowe Bergball -- dahl -- had been captured during a battle, would you still be opposed to this deal?
ROGERS: Yes, I would, because I -- we haven't used all the options that are afforded to us. Remember, he was in Pakistan, not all that far, we believe, from an ISI, their intelligence service, and military outposts. So now there's two other -- an American and her husband is Canadian, we believe is in Pakistan. Bergdahl was in Pakistan. Certainly, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan.
You've got a reoccurring theme here. In the FBI, George, we would call that a clue.
This is a problem and a place to start. We never went at Pakistan with any level of -- of pressure to say you're going to have to help us solve this problem. None of that happened.
There were other options on the table, many still classified, that never even rose...
ROGERS: -- to the level of discussion. I think that's the problem. And remember, it's not just getting the soldier out. And we're glad and happy for the family. That's great.
But it's a bigger ramification of what this trade means to the Paki -- to, excuse me, to the Afghans that we've asked to risk their lives trying to free that country of the Taliban.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What should happen...
ROGERS: Including women.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Excuse me.
What should happen with Bergdahl now?
If he's found to have been -- if he's been found to have deserted, should he be punished or has he already paid the price?
ROGERS: Well, I think that the Department of Defense needs to do a very thorough investigation. Obviously, those soldiers are very, very concerned and upset by it and -- and if their account is true, they should be.
You jeopardize other soldiers when you walk away from your post, period and end of story. And that's a serious, serious matter in a combat zone.
But it needs to be thoroughly investigated by Department of Defense. This -- the administration trying to change the narrative through these anonymous sort of, you know, leaks to the paper about what the deal was and wasn't, none of which I found credible, by the way, needs to stop. They should stop all of that.
We ought to have a full discussion, uh, right now about the policy implications, broader implications that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: A final...
ROGERS: -- have just occurred.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A final question. Lindsey Graham...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- has raised the prospect of impeachment. If President Obama releases more Guantanamo prisoners without approval from Congress.
Should impeachment be on the table?
ROGERS: Well, again, I -- you know, that's -- that's a long way down this road and -- and the most disturbing part about this, George, is that in 2011, the -- their answers to the questions about -- for -- for a bipartisan opposition to this trade, by the way, was a whole series of things that had to happen. And one of them struck me. And it was really -- by the secretary of State at that time, Hillary Clinton, said that if all of our conditions aren't met, then none of them will be met.
And it was conditions like renouncing violence, adhering to the Afghan constitution and making sure that women are treated fairly in Afghanistan.
We got none of that. I think that's where we ought to focus right now. We -- we have made a serious, serious geopolitical mistake. We've empowered the Taliban. The one thing that they wanted more than anything, George, was recognition from the U.S. government so they can use that propagandize against areas that are you can see still in Afghanistan. They got all of that.
So that's where we need to do focus. We need to unwind this thing and try to fix it before we start, I think, hanging scalps on a pole. This is as serious as I've seen it. And we need to work through these issues. I encourage the administration to come back to Congress, as the law requires, so you can have these discussions, so you can get these questions answered before you move forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman, thanks very much for your time this morning.