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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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June 1, 2014 - 1:58 pm

The senior Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said today that the Obama administration specifically told him the Taliban commanders released from Guantanamo wouldn’t be be used in a prisoner swap without consulting Congress.

Afghanistan’s Tolo News described the deep roots of the commanders exchanged: Mullah Khairullah Khair Khawah, who served as minister of interior and governor of Herat under the Taliban government; Mullah Fazel Mazloom, the Taliban Army chief of staff; Mawlawi Abdul Haq Waseeq, the deputy head of intelligence under the Taliban; Mawlawi Noorullah Noori, former governor of Balkh and later Kandahar army chief for the Taliban; and Mawlawi Muhammad Nabi Omeri, a senior Taliban leader in southern Afghanistan.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) stressed that the U.S. “has a long-standing policy of not negotiating with terrorists,” adding he’s “deeply troubled the Obama administration not only broke this policy, but also did so without the notification or consent of Congress, as required by law.”

“Six months ago, I was assured by the administration they would not consider the release of these senior Taliban leaders without consulting Congress. Today, they violated that commitment,” Chambliss said. “The security assurances the United States has been given regarding these terrorists is feeble at best, and I fear it is only a matter of time before they resume their terrorist activities.”

“These men are not soldiers; they are dangerous terrorists and President Obama should be treating them as such.”

The Taliban prisoners were released to Qatar, where the Taliban said they’ll lead a “normal life” with their families.

“The Qatari government has given us assurances that it will put in place measures to protect our national security,” Obama said yesterday in the Rose Garden with Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s family.

On NBC this morning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called the deal a possible “new opening that can produce an agreement” with the Taliban as the U.S. prepares to exit Afghanistan.

“As to notification of congress, yes, there is a 30-day notification. I notified the appropriate committee leadership, different committee leadership yesterday. That’s part of the responsibility I have as the secretary of Defense and we did this under the timeline we did for …to save the life of Sergeant Bergdahl,” Hagel said. “As I said before, we had information that his health could be deteriorating rapidly. There was a question about his safety. We found an opportunity. We took that opportunity. I’ll stand by that decision. I signed off on the decision. The president made the ultimate decision. We did spend time looking at this.”

A congressional staffer told PJM two weeks ago that “all sourcing” indicated “there’s been ample opportunity to secure his release” over the past five years.

The release came, though, days after Obama announced his timetable for Afghanistan withdrawal and laid out his broader foreign policy strategy in a pair of speeches. It also comes as he’s been angling to close Guantanamo and butting heads with members of Congress about what to do with its occupants.

“The president has made very clear he wants to close Guantanamo. We do have responsibilities that we don’t let anyone out of Guantanamo, and I will not sign off on any detainee coming out of Guantanamo unless I am assured, unless our government is assured, our country can be assured that we can sufficiently mitigate any risk to America’s security,” Hagel said.

“We didn’t negotiate with terrorists. As I said and explained before, Sergeant Bergdahl is a prisoner of war. That’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back.”

The Defense Department officially classified Bergdahl as “missing-captured” in early July 2009.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the timing of the deal “a little coincidence that on the day that Bergdahl is released is the day after we found out that the first American suicide bomber was part of Muslim extremists, al-Qaeda, blew himself up in Syria because we got out of Iraq, which we — when we could have left forces behind, and now the Iraq-Syria border is a haven for these people.”

“And the fact is that al-Qaeda is reconstituted,” he added.

McCain acknowledged that Hagel’s predecessor, Leon Panetta, was opposed to a swap for Bergdahl. “There was discussions that I heard way back as far back as two years ago to release these people. There was a bipartisan opposition to that,” he said, adding of the Taliban five, “There’s no doubt they will reenter the fight.”

National Security Adviser Susan Rice told CNN this morning that the deal to free Bergdahl “evolved over a period of time.”

“In fact, going back some years, we have had intermittent conversations through the government of Qatar about trying to obtain the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl,” Rice said. “It was an extraordinary day yesterday and an extraordinary day for America, because a member of our armed forces who had been in captivity almost five years will now be reunited with his mother and father, whom we had the opportunity to see yesterday and who are over the moon.”

Rice also denied that the White House negotiated with terrorists. “We actually negotiated with the government of Qatar… but the point is, he was being held by the Taliban.”

“This opportunity is one that has been briefed to Congress when we had past potential to have this kind of arrangement. So, it wasn’t unknown to Congress. The Department of Defense consulted with the Department of Justice,” she said. “And given the acute urgency of the health condition of Sergeant Bergdahl, and given the president’s constitutional responsibilities, it was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement, because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sergeant Bergdahl would have been lost.”

“…When the deal was done and Sergeant Bergdahl was in U.S. custody is when we began making notifications to Congress.”

Rice wouldn’t delve into the security arrangements with Qatar for the housing of the Taliban commanders, but they have to stay there for at least a year with “restrictions on their movement and behavior.”

When asked whether the deal increases the risk for other Americans of being taken hostage, Rice replied, “I think the terrorists are intent on doing what they are going to do.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
I'm just wondering how much would we have to pay the Taliban to take Berghdal back? And how much if we sent his creepy father with him?

Otherwise may Berghdal and his creepy father both get cancer and soon.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rashid Khalidi dinners pay off.

Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam rejoice.

All those years in Jakarta studying the Koran, as the boy's father said...God is great.

Hagel says this may lead to wonderful deals with the Taliban. There is no confirmation that he followed up by saying he might be able to get them to destroy those effing Jooos.


John Kerry said Bergdahl was very close to his heart. Of course. A soldier who was interested in leaving, who hated his unit, slandered his country and championed the enemy. Kerry, Obama, Clinton and Rice want to party with this guy and his father.

Five masterminds gifted back to try to mass murder us. Makes some people wonder which side this administration is on.

Not me. I knew a long time ago.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
So the lawless Obama regime continues to do whatever Obama wants, without any accountability, five dangerous terrorists are back in action, and we have an AWOL American soldier back.

I suppose the next outrage will be Obama awarding Bergdahl a medal for meritorious service.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (34)
All Comments   (34)
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Oh, so al Qaeda is reconstituted? So much for Obama's childish fixation on killing one person, and his attack on George W for being an adult.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
US Intel is highly overrated if they gave ANY credence to a promise this administration made.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
How can any thinking American believe anything coming out of the
Present Administration ? The short answer is that you're a fool if you don't at least use a jaundiced eyeball and a B S filter to look/listen at/to these ba$tards.
If any Objective thinker can still wonder if Barry and His Minions just disregard what they find inconvenient, [in law] let this latest escapade be the final proof.
As we draw ever-closer to early Nov. of this year, watch for what is going to happen next.
Keep a paper bag close-at hand, kids...............
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"the Obama administration specifically told him"

And he believed them. Why?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Because that same obama promised that you could keep your health care plan and your doctor. That's good enough for a lot of [other] people.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Silly people! You actually believe President Hubris's promise? Where have you been for the last six years?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Everyone in Congress is upset with Obozo for his actions without congressional approval in this and so, so many other areas. The evidence against the mans is monumental, and yet, there is no word of impeachment proceedings? Who is BS-ing who? Enough with the lip service. Get off your a$$es and take decisive, meaningful action.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
This exchange of this Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl just seems to be an excellent cover-opportunity for our closeted Muslim Obama to release these top terrorist back into a Muslim country, for the benefit of the Muslims in general.

After a suitable interval, they'll disappear for a while, then re-appear in the same positions they occupied when we picked them up originally.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl himself is a Red Herring, a diversionary tool, a pawn. That photo-op of the parents with Obama was sickening.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Plus, prior to disappearing and getting captured, Sgt Bergdahl was known to be in opposition to (or at least ambivalent about) the US involvement in Afghanistan. Until we determine definitely that he was actually held against his will, there is suspicion that he went to the Taliban of his own free will to be used by them. No, I don't know that to be true, but it definitely bears scrutiny.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another screwup by the gang that can't shoot straight!!....
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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