A new poll shows a majority of veteran households disagree with President Obama’s decision to release five Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
The Pew Research Center/USA Today poll asked 1,004 people to weigh in on Obama’s decision, which sparked controversy amid questions over whether Bergdahl deserted his Army unit in 2009 while stationed in eastern Afghanistan.
Thirty-three percent of respondents to the poll said they or someone in their household was a veteran.
Fifty-five percent of those households said that Obama’s decision to exchange the Taliban leaders for Bergdahl was the “wrong thing” to do. Only 26 percent of veteran households said it was the right move, and 18 percent offered no opinion.
That compares with 38 percent of non-veteran households that said the exchange was the “wrong thing” to do, while 37 percent said it was the “right thing” to do. Twenty-five percent had no opinion.
Twice as many respondents from veteran households said they felt angry towards Bergdahl than did respondents from non-veteran households. Twenty-three percent said they were angry at the decision with only 11 percent of non-veteran households saying they felt the same.
Twelve percent of veteran households said they felt sympathy for Bergdahl, who is currently recuperating at a hospital in Germany. Seventeen percent of civilian households said they had sympathetic feelings for him.
When asked to assume that Bergdahl left his post, 37 percent of veteran households said that the U.S. was not obligated to do all they could to rescue him. That compares to 26 percent of non-veteran households who felt the same.
Similarly, 47 percent of veteran households said the U.S. had a responsibility to do all it could to rescue Bergdahl, no matter the circumstances. Sixty percent of non-veteran households agreed.
Bergdahl has reportedly said that he was kept in a metal cage for weeks or months at a time by his captors – which included the Taliban and members of the Haqqani network.
Though the Obama administration justified the exchange claiming that Bergdahl, who was promoted twice from the rank of private while being held captive, was in imminent danger, U.S. officials have said that he was in decent physical health.
Not surprisingly, the Pew Research Center/USA Today poll showed a stark partisan divide. Seventy-one percent of Republicans said that Obama made the wrong decision, while only 24 percent of Democrats agreed. Sixteen percent of Republicans thought Obama’s decision was the right one; 55 percent of Democrats thought it was the correct move.