The prisoner exchange that freed U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban in Afghanistan gets a more negative than positive reaction from the public.
Overall, 43% say it was the wrong thing for the Obama administration to exchange five Taliban prisoners for captive soldier Bergdahl, while fewer (34%) say it was the right thing to do; 23% do not offer an opinion.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted June 5-8 among 1,004 adults, finds that while this specific prisoner exchange is viewed negatively on balance, most think the U.S. has a responsibility to do all it can to free captive U.S. soldiers in general, regardless of the circumstances of their capture.
President Obama has received criticism for failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance of the transfer of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. When asked to think generally about situations like the exchange, most Americans (64%) say “the president should be required to inform Congress in advance of decisions like these”; just 30% say he “should have the flexibility to make decisions like these without informing Congress in advance.”
This view is nearly unanimous among Republicans (87%-11%), and 67% of independents also say the president should be required to inform Congress in advance of decisions like these. Democrats are more divided, with a narrow 53%-majority saying the president should have the flexibility to act without informing Congress in advance, while 44% say he should be required to notify Congress.And the kicker:
The Obama administration’s decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners for U.S. solider Bowe Bergdahl tied with reports about problems with care at veterans hospitals around the country as the public’s top story last week. Overall, 34% say they very closely followed each news story.
Republicans (51%) were much more likely than Democrats (31%) to say they followed news about the prisoner exchange very closely.
Relatively few say they followed news about a plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon emissions from power plants (16%) or news about the 2014 Congressional elections (14%). Similarly small percentages of Republicans (18%) and Democrats (17%) followed midterm election news very closely.