President Barack Obama said Thursday he "absolutely makes no apologies" for seeking the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a prisoner swap with the Taliban, vigorously defending an exchange that has caused a furor in the United States and has dogged the president on his European trip this week.
When it comes to getting soldiers back from war, Obama said, "We don't condition whether we make the effort to get them back."
He also said Bergdahl's health had been deteriorating and "We were deeply concerned about it.
Bergdahl was released following a deal between the U.S. and the Taliban that was brokered by Qatar. Five Taliban detainees held in Guantanamo were released as part of the exchange. Republicans and Democrats have objected to the swap.
Obama said his administration had discussed the possibility of such an exchange with members of Congress in the past. But he did not notify lawmakers in advance that he planned to release Guantanamo detainees. He is required to provide such notice 30 days ahead of a release.
"Because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important go ahead and do what we did," he said.
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