Sen. Brown: ‘I wish the White House handled it differently’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been out of Taliban captivity for one week now. The questions about the five Taliban fighters released for his freedom don’t seem to be going away anytime soon, including why Congress wasn’t given notice about the exchange.

Bergdahl’s hospital room in Germany is thousands of miles away from his hometown of Hailey, Idaho. While the army sergeant recovers, the questions and concerns continue about how the situation unfolded.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the White House should have handled the exchange differently, but believes the President did the right thing in brining Bergdahl home.

“Every solider, every Marine that is deployed overseas needs to know that if he or she becomes a prisoner of war the President will do all he can to assure their safe return,” said Brown. “The President did the right thing in getting him home, what kind of soldier he was is still in question.”

Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said facts are still unfolding and cautions against any rush to judgment.

“I think it is one of those really delicate situations, but I think when we have an opportunity to get one of our own soldiers back regardless of what’s going on, we’ve got to try and get them back, and I don’t think we should apologize for that,” said Ryan

Ryan said as he heads back to Washington, he will keep an eye on the situation and see how it plays out.

Brown said with all the stories circulating, it is hard to know what to believe. Bergdahl is accused of walking away from his unit unarmed and without leave. Detractors say other military personnel were put in harm’s way searching for Bergdahl.

The Department of Defense issued a statement Sunday on the investigation:

“The Department of Defense does not comment on discussions that Sergeant Bergdahl is having with the professionals who are providing him
medical and reintegration care. We will respect that process in all regards. As we have noted, the Army will conduct a comprehensive review to learn the circumstances of Sergeant Bergdahl’s disappearance and captivity. That process, too, needs to be respected. Our focus remains on providing him with the care he needs.”

“I think the military justice system should work its way on this. If he did these things he alleged, them the military justice system should deal with it in a military court of law,” said Brown.

Vietnam Veteran Leo Connelly organized a rally in Youngstown on Bergdahl’s 28th birthday in March. He took an oath to never leave a solider behind.

“Humbled to be able to play a little, small part in letting this gentleman know that he wasn’t forgotten at any time,” said Connelly.

Connelly also stands by the president’s actions as commander in chief and said both sides of the story need to play out.

“Until we can actually put all the pieces together, I would tell the public out there to hold off your opinion and then after that you have your right to your opinion. That is what makes America so great,” said Connelly.

Meanwhile, a Pentagon press secretary said Bergdahl’s health is improving.

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