OBAMA: "I'm never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington, right? That's -- that's par for the course, but I'll repeat what I said two days ago. We have a basic principle. We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated, and we were deeply concerned about, and we saw an opportunity, and we seized it, and I make no apologies for that.
"We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur, but because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did. And we're now explaining to Congress the details of how we move forward. But this basic principle that we don't leave anybody behind, and this basic recognition that often means prisoner exchanges with enemies, is not unique my administration. It dates back to the beginning of our republic.
"And with respect to how we announced it, I think it was important for people to understand that this not some abstraction -- this is not a political football. You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land. Who they hadn't seen in five years. And weren't sure whether they'd ever see again. And as commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces I am responsible for those kids. And I get letters from parents who say if you are, in fact, sending my child into war make sure that that child is being taken care of. And I write too many letters to folks who unfortunately don't see their children again after fighting a war. 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 to try and get them back."