Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Fact-checking Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release

An undated image by the U.S. Army showing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was recently released after years of being held by the Taliban.
An undated image by the U.S. Army showing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was recently released after years of being held by the Taliban.

The return of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held for about five years by the Taliban, has raised issues about constitutional powers, the war in Afghanistan, and even Bergdahl’s own actions.

Here at PolitiFact, we’ve done two fact-checks, updated a promise on our Obameter, and published a nuanced story without issuing a rating on our Truth-O-Meter.

• We fact-checked Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who said President Barack Obama broke a decades-old policy of not negotiating with terrorists. We actually found a number of instances where the United States did negotiate with terrorists. We rated his statement Mostly False.

• We fact-checked Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who said the Taliban members that Obama traded for Bergdahl’s release were "the highest high-risk people." We found that some of the men were very senior members of the Taliban. We rated his statement Mostly True.

• We revisited Obama’s campaign promise that he wouldn’t issue signing statements that nullify the rule of Congress. But Obama did issue a signing statement on a law about notifying Congress of detainee releases from Guantanamo Bay, so that pretty much contradicted his campaign promise. We rated his campaign promise Promise Broken.

• Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, said on the Sunday shows that Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction." We didn’t issue a rating, because all the facts aren’t known about Bergdahl’s capture. Read the story to find out why one expert said Rice’s comments were "premature and not at all politically wise."