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.
Below is the transcript of Rogers’ interview with George Stephanopolous, courtesy of ABC News:
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.
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. We cannot trade away prisoners which we hold for our own soldiers that are held in captivity by the enemy unless all fighting has ceased. He says this because he believes prisoners released by the U.S. will return to fight against America.
The Congressman also claimed during the interview that the White House had other options available to secure Bergdahl’s release. Host George Stephanopolous did interject and point out that the Obama Administration has stated that no other options were available to them. However, Rogers got all snippy and argued that it’s really just the White House not wanting anyone to disagree with them and that is why the President avoided Congress. There were other ways to go about it. Rogers can’t answer what those other options were, he just knows they were out there.
The fact is, this prisoner exchange with the Taliban had been in negotiations since 2011 and that GOP members of Congress were fully aware of it the whole time. Now, maybe Rogers wasn’t aware because he spends all of his time doing news shows or prepping for his new career as the next Rush Limbaugh. Or perhaps it’s because the rest of the time he’s spent chasing red herring after red herring when it comes to Benghazi. Regardless, this 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.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).