Bergdahl exchange renews debate on Guantanamo

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The prisoner exchange involving American POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees who were being held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center has the country talking.

On Thursday, a State Department spokesperson said the United States has a long history of exchanging prisoners of war for Americans.  “It is consistent absolutely with what's happened in previous wars, including Korea, including Vietnam. I think one of the large trauches of prisoners in Vietnam, it was something like around 500 Americans for 1,300 North Vietnamese,” said Deputy State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf.

A little closer to home, Suncoast area residents we spoke with are glad our country brought Bergdahl home.

Army Veteran Sheldon Jones says exchanging Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl was the right thing to do.  “To make an exchange is fair to me. The higher ups made the call, that is why we put them in that position that we put them in and we are able to trust what they are doing.”

Rick Nelson agrees.  “I don't think we should leave one of ours behind.”

“Yeah, it should of happened but again, someone didn’t do there homework, I mean how do you get somebody out of hawk so to speak and this guy supposedly was a walk away,” said George Hicks.

The Bergdahl exchange also has people talking about whether or not we should shut down Guantanamo Bay, which was a campaign promise made by President Obama.

“He should keep his promise. It is one of the commitments people held him to,” said Bob Jenkins.

“No if ands or buts about it. It should be dismantled gone, do something with these buggers and away we go,” said Hicks.

“I don’t believe we should hold prisoners of war when we just recovered one of our own. We either try and convict them or we send them home,” said Nelson.

“If it is costing us money and costing taxpayers money and we are not getting a lot of intelligence out of it then I don’t think we should keep putting money into it and keep people there without any good reason” said Robert Herrington.

Others think we should keep 'Gitmo' open for the safety of our country.  “I think we should keep it open, you know, so there's less terrorists in the United States,” said Carlos Chavarria.

“Guantanamo Bay has all of the quote unquote terrorist or people who could cause a lot of problems in the world globally,” Cameron Sandford told ABC7.

Congressman Vern Buchanan who represents our district does not support releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. He even wrote an open letter to the Secretary of Defense asking for answers and saying in part the release of Taliban extremists from Guantanamo Bay raises serious questions about negotiating with terrorist.