John McCain Supported Exchange For Bowe Bergdahl Until It Happened

John McCain, a former prisoner of war himself, once supported exchanging prisoners from Gitmo for the ailing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, only “flip-flopping” when the successful rescue of the recently liberated POW came to pass.

In the five years Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl remained in captivity in Afghanistan, the circumstances of his capture (and the many rumors surrounding it) were not well-hidden.

While the US military attempted to keep details of Bergdahl’s captivity under wraps, that did not stop Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings, who died in 2013, from extensively covering the strange story of the POW’s capture in the magazine in a 2012 story.

In it, Bergdahl’s growing inability to cope with a deteriorating chain of command and notoriously poorly organized unit on the ground in Afghanistan was reported at length — as were rumors that the soldier had walked off base of his own accord.

Conversely, the Wikileaks data dump that put Chelsea Manning in jail also included some intel believed to be about Bergdahl — and buried in it was a report that Taliban fighters claimed to have snatched him from a latrine, gleaned from radio chatter.

Despite these reports being openly circulated for years, it didn’t change the opinion of John McCain. Just this February, despite Hastings’ extensive reporting and the Wikileaks report casting doubt on claims Bergdahl deserted, McCain said:

“Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details.”

That quote came from John McCain, directly, on CNN, and was stated on February 18 of this year. Note that the Senator said “prisoners,” not “prisoner,” indicating that he indeed considered swapping more than one Gitmo detainee for Bergdahl. Openly and publicly.

Which is why many are confused as to how he could have changed course so quickly with no new information. On June 3, McCain disagreed with himself and said:

“We were never told that there would be an exchange of Sergeant Bergdahl for five Taliban.”

The Washington Post quotes an earlier interview with Anderson Cooper, in which McCain spoke at length about his special investment in the release of Bowe Bergdahl:

“Well, I was fortunate in where he is not that I had fellow POWs that even though I was a long time in solitary confinement we would tap on the wall to each other and stay in communication. If it wasn’t for that, it would have been a very different story for most of us. And this is why I feel especially sympathetic for Mr. Bergdahl because he is all there by himself.”

In response to questions over John McCain’s sudden position switch on Bowe Bergdahl, the Senator claimed “selective editing” was at fault. Several GOP members have expressed approval of the rescue of Bergdahl, only to immediately reverse course when the messaging shifted.

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