WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today urged President Barack Obama to move swiftly to declassify as much information on the details of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release as possible. He also asked for an update on efforts being undertaken to secure the freedom of Marylanders Warren Weinstein and Alan Gross.
“I was pleased to hear that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was coming home after being held captive by the Taliban for more than five years as a Prisoner of War. We have a solemn commitment to our Prisoners of War to make every effort to secure their freedom. Unfortunately, in this case, there has been a rush to judgment by individuals without all the facts. For this reason, I urge President Obama to move quickly to declassify as much material as possible to help all of us gain a better understanding of Sgt. Bergdahl’s capture and recent release, and the circumstances concerning the detainees who were transferred to Qatar. I would encourage the public and my fellow lawmakers to wait for all the facts to come out before we begin to draw conclusions.
“Separate from my concerns about Sgt. Bergdahl, who was a Prisoner of War, I have questions about what latest steps are being taken to free American civilians being held overseas. Two Marylanders, Warren Weinstein in Pakistan and Alan Gross in Cuba, are being held under different circumstances but deserve every effort so they too can return home to their families. For years now, I have been raising their cases at the highest levels possible. I’d like to know how we can expedite the freedom of these two Americans.
“Lastly, I firmly believe that we must close the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay. It is a blight on America’s human rights leadership around the world and against our national security interests and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Detainees should be tried in civilian or military courts, as appropriate. We have a successful track record of prosecuting and convicting terrorists in U.S. courts.”