Flashback: When John McCain Liked the Idea of Trading Prisoners for a POW

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 3 2014 4:57 PM

Flashback: When John McCain Liked the Idea of Trading Prisoners for a POW

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We discover John McCain was whistling a different tune when we take our time machine all the way back to ... four months ago.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Today, as was covered a bit earlier, Sen. John McCain lit into the Obama administration for the deal that ended the captivity of American POW Bowe Bergdahl. He'd been traded for five "wanted war criminals," one of them "supposedly guilty of murdering thousands of Shi'ite Muslims."

"This decision to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home—and we applaud that he is home—is ill-founded, it is a mistake," said McCain. "And it is putting the lives of American servicemen and -women at risk."

 

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A Democrat reminds me that McCain appeared on CNN four months ago, when the Bergdahl case was receiving far less coverage, and did not sound so bearish on the potential of a trade. He hadn't wanted the five Taliban to be released as a "confidence" measure, but "this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I'd be inclined to support such a thing, depending on the details."

The whole "details" concept gives McCain some cover, I suppose. But did the prisoners get markedly scarier in the intervening four months? What happened? The Obama administration, which was aware of comments like McCain's, is rattled now to see McCain joining the crowds at the Bastille.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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