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Jun 6, 2014

Americans split on prisoner swap of Taliban for U.S. soldier: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans are deeply divided over whether the Obama administration did the right thing by swapping five Taliban leaders to win the freedom of Afghanistan prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, according to Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Friday.

Americans strongly agree the United States should make every effort to free prisoners of war like Bergdahl, an Army Sergeant who was captured in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. But they also think the prisoner swap deal set a dangerous precedent.

Jun 5, 2014

Freed soldier’s hometown cancels rally amid anger over swap

KABUL (Reuters) – The political uproar over the prisoner swap that won the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity intensified on Wednesday when his hometown canceled plans for a rally celebrating his return amid allegations that he deserted.

The Taliban released video of their handover of Bergdahl to U.S. special operations forces in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border on Saturday, showing the U.S. soldier seemingly dazed and anxious about the unfolding events.

Jun 3, 2014

Obama defends deal that freed soldier amid growing demands for hearings

WASHINGTON/WARSAW (Reuters) – President Barack Obama defended himself on Tuesday against Republican criticism of the prisoner swap deal that freed a U.S. soldier from Taliban captivity, as his fellow soldiers accused him of deserting his unit and turning his back on his country.

Speaking in Poland, Obama said rescuing Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl upheld a “sacred rule” that the United States does not “leave our men or women in uniform behind.”

Jun 2, 2014

Republicans demand hearings in Congress over soldier’s release

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers angered by a White House deal to swap five Taliban prisoners for a captured U.S. soldier in Afghanistan on Monday demanded hearings over why the Obama administration reached the agreement without consulting Congress.

Adding to criticism of the decision to negotiate the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl were accusations by some soldiers who served with him that they consider Bergdahl a deserter who cost the lives of several comrades.

May 30, 2014

Obama accepts US veterans affairs chief resignation with ‘regret’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned on Friday following a meeting with President Barack Obama that came amid a firestorm of outrage over delays in medical care for U.S. veterans.

Shortly after the private White House session, Obama announced to reporters that “with considerable regret, I accepted” Shinseki’s resignation. The move came after a growing number of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as some veterans’ groups, had called for his removal.

May 30, 2014

U.S. veterans affairs chief resigns over healthcare scandal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, facing calls for his ouster by lawmakers and veterans groups, resigned on Friday after taking responsibility for a healthcare scandal over delays in medical care for U.S. veterans.

President Barack Obama said he accepted the resignation of the soft-spoken, 71-year-old retired Army general after being briefed on the initial findings of the investigation into abuses that were initially found in Phoenix but later identified at other facilities across the country.

May 30, 2014

Veterans Affairs chief apologizes for problems, to meet with Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, condemning a systemic “lack of integrity” at some VA hospitals, apologized to veterans on Friday for abuses that hid the lengthy wait times for patients to see doctors, saying the problem was worse than he thought.

The 71-year-old, soft-spoken retired Army general, who has been under pressure from lawmakers and veterans groups to step down, said he accepted responsibility for the VA’s failures, initially found in Phoenix but now identified in other facilities across the country. But he did not indicate whether he would resign.

May 23, 2014

Congress heads toward showdown over 2015 defense priorities

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) – Lawmakers in Congress headed
toward a showdown over Pentagon spending on Thursday after the
House and Senate advanced competing versions of the annual
defense policy bill that differ on everything from spending
priorities to closing Guantanamo.

The House of Representatives voted 325-98 to pass a 2015
National Defense Authorization Act that rejected the Pentagon’s
bid to cut long-term costs by reducing military pay raises and
eliminating planes, ships and bases.

May 22, 2014

House rejects Pentagon cost-cutting plans in defense policy bill

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of
Representatives rejected Pentagon cost-cutting proposals on
Thursday with a $601 billion election-year defense policy bill
that offered bigger military pay raises and blocked a
politically tough bid to eliminate planes, ships and bases.

The chamber voted 325-98 to pass the 2015 National Defense
Authorization Act, which rejected Pentagon plans to save tens of
billions of dollars over the next five years as the department
tries to meet a congressional mandate to cut nearly $1 trillion
in defense spending over a decade.

May 22, 2014

U.S. House poised to reject Pentagon’s cost-cutting plans

WASHINGTON, May 21 (Reuters) – The House of Representative
on Wednesday edged toward passage of an annual defense policy
bill that rejects Pentagon plans to retire older weapons systems
and slow the rise in military pay as it implements long-term
spending cuts ordered by Congress.

Most amendments to revive the Pentagon’s cost-cutting
measures died in committee on Wednesday and never made it to the
floor for consideration by the full House, which began debating
the National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday night.

    • About David

      "David has been a journalist for 30 years, based in Washington, London, New Delhi, Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He covered the first Gulf war, the Palestinian intifada and the conflict in Kashmir. Since 1998 he has been an editor and reporter in Washington, covering politics, the White House and other stories."
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