PARKERSBURG - The world is a more dangerous place with the release of five Taliban fighters in an exchange for a captured U.S. soldier, a congressman from West Virginia said.
"These are bad guys," Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said Thursday.
The administration arranged for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after he left his post at a base in Afghanistan's Paktika Province in June 2009, through an exchange of five detainees held at the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
Announcement of Bergdahl's release was one of three major developments in less than a week, McKinley said. Also happening were the resignation of the head of the Veterans Administration over delayed medical care and the new climate control emission standards by the Environmental Protection Agency, which critics say means the end of coal-fired plants in the United States.
Not including the impact to the safety of Americans overseas by negotiating for the release of hostages, the detainees at Guantanamo, nicknamed Gitmo, are among the most dangerous criminals in the world, McKinley said.
"These are the worst of the worst," said McKinley, who was in the area to meet with representatives from the cities of Vienna and North Hills.
The exchange and release of the detainees is part of President Obama's plan to close the prison camp, McKinley said.
"He's been wanting to close Gitmo for a long time," McKinley said.
McKinley believes the administration underestimated the objections to the Bergdahl exchange and instead was hoping to generate a positive event among the negative events starting with the revelations at the Veterans Administration and on Monday when the EPA released the emission standards.
"I'm chomping at the bit" to return to Washington, D.C., to find out, he said.
Eric Shinseki resigned on Friday as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs amid reports of lengthy delays for veterans waiting for treatment at VA hospitals. Forty veterans waiting at the Phoenix VA may have died.
McKinley said he spoke to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio in Morgantown this week and the House leader said he may resurrect a proposal where someone who has waited for care for more than 30 days be given a voucher for treatment elsewhere.
The argument against that is opponents fear it may be the first step to dissolving the Veterans Administration, McKinley said.