The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee emerged from a classified briefing on the trade of five Taliban commanders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl yesterday expressing concern about contradicting testimony from administration officials.
Bob Work, deputy secretary of Defense, Stephen Preston, general counsel for the DoD, Adm. James Winnefeld, Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Robert Cardillo, deputy director for National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration, and Michael J. Dumont, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan & Central Asia briefed committee members behind closed doors.
Members who attended the briefing spotted inconsistencies between information relayed by these officials and the earlier unclassified testimony of Preston and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
“Following this briefing, I am even more concerned about the ramifications of this terrorist transfer,” said Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). “As the details emerge, it is clear that a rigorous investigation into this matter is essential.”
“It is clear to me that despite claims of a rushed operation, this transfer was months in the making — months when Congress was intentionally left in the dark and possibly deliberately deceived,” McKeon continued. “I have yet to see evidence that a direct threat to Sgt. Bergdhal’s life generated a sense of urgency that expedited the transfer, and some indications that there was none.”
“Testimony in this classified session with respect to the parties involved in negotiations contradicts earlier testimony and raises significant concerns about negotiating with terrorists. In all, there is much we do not understand about who we negotiated with, why the administration expedited the terrorist transfer, and why the president violated the law.”