By Joan E. Greve
June 5, 2014

President Barack Obama on Thursday fiercely defended his decision to trade five senior Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, decrying that critics have turned the issue into “a political football.”

“I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child and that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back,” Obama said during a news conference in Brussels. “This is not a political football.”

The prisoner exchange has sparked a sharp political backlash, something Obama dismissed.

“I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington,” Obama said.

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