McCain Now Supports Trading Taliban Prisoner for US Prisoner

Image: McCain Now Supports Trading Taliban Prisoner for US Prisoner

Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014 09:55 PM

By Greg Richter

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Sen. John McCain says he now would be inclined to support trading a Taliban prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay for a U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan.

In 2012, McCain called the idea of negotiating with the Taliban "bizarre" and "highly questionable," but on Tuesday he said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360"  that he would be open to a swap now being discussed.

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been held by a group with ties to the Taliban for almost four years, and the group has demanded the United States release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for him.

The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials confirmed that talks among diplomats and the Pentagon were under way. The official U.S. policy is not to negotiate with terrorists, but the military is winding down operations there by the end of the year and could risk leaving Bergdahl behind, CNN noted.

McCain said his stance has changed only because the previous proposal was to release five "hard-core" Taliban leaders as a "confidence-building measure." The current proposal would be an actual exchange of prisoners.

"I would be inclined to support such a thing, depending on a lot of details," he said.

McCain spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and said he feels "especially sympathetic for Mr. Bergdahl because he is there all by himself."

McCain spent two years in solitary confinement, but said he was able to tap on the walls to communicate with other POWs.

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