When asked last week whether the five top terrorist leaders he freed from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could return to plotting attacks on Americans, President Obama said “absolutely.”
No wonder his administration received push back from Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate years ago, when it first proposed the idea.
And it wasn’t just members of Congress who voiced their concern and opposition at the time. Then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates was “very uncomfortable” with the idea, and even then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supposedly “pushed for a much tougher deal.”
Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reportedly also had similar concerns, and said last week that he “question[s] whether the conditions are in place to make sure these terrorists don't go back into battle.”
Ultimately, the White House acted unilaterally and in secret, “overrode an existing interagency process charged with debating the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners and dismissed long-standing Pentagon and intelligence community concerns based on [classified] intelligence about the dangers of releasing the five” members of the Taliban.
Currently, the five are living in “luxury” in Qatar, “free to travel anywhere in the country and enjoy its pleasures” while that government supposedly keeps tabs on them. Some American intelligence officials are worried, however, that Qatar will “magically lose track” of them.
That would be unfortunate, as one is already “insisting he would go to Afghanistan and fight American forces.”
“Knowing that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists,” Speaker Boehner said after President Obama announced the deal, is one of our military personnel’s “greatest protections.” And now it is compromised.
A Taliban commander close to the negotiations over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told TIME Thursday that the deal made to secure Bergdahl’s release has made it more appealing for fighters to capture American soldiers and other high-value targets....
“It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”
Thousands of American troops are still serving in Afghanistan, working to see the mission through before being reunited with their families. Increasing the danger they face every day is exactly what those who voiced concerns about a potential deal wanted to avoid.