Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said statements by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the Taliban five opened his eyes about Reid’s disconnection with reality.
Outside of a Senate policy luncheon yesterday, Reid told reporters that he was “glad” that the five Taliban commanders had been released from Guantanamo.
“Well, my own personal opinion, Guantanamo has been there far too long, and I think that we should get them out of there as quickly as we can. We’ve been held up from doing that by the Republicans, not wanting any of them to be tried here in the United States, even though our record here is really quite good,” Reid said.
“So I’m glad to get rid of these five people, send them back to Qatar, and I think the arrangements made there are, as far as I understand, what’s been explained to me, adequate.”
“Harry Reid is disconnected from reality to the level that I didn’t understand until he said that,” Graham told Fox afterward.
“I wish they would have died in jail,” Graham continued. “There is not one shred of evidence that letting them go was based on the fact that they are no longer dangerous. These people were let go for political reasons. They were traded for Sergeant Bergdahl. The likelihood of an American citizen being kidnapped in the future by a terrorist organization, in light of this decision, goes through the roof. These people will go back to the fight. As I understand the terms of the agreement, they are required to stay in Qatar for one year. They will go right back to Afghanistan. They were political and military leaders of the Taliban.”
“There is no evidence, Senator Reid, that these people have renounced terrorism. Quite the opposite. They are now heroes.”
Graham objected to the initial hearings on Bergdahl, including the Senate Armed Services Committee next Tuesday, being closed-door.
“I just think it’s politics. I think the Senate Democrats don’t want to have an open hearing. These are the same people that insisted on an opening hearing when it came to detainee views. Remember Guantanamo Bay abuses, remember Abu Ghraib in Iraq, we had an opening hearing. We put all of our dirty laundry for people out there to see. Now, when it comes time for this release, they will want to do it behind closed doors. That will not stand,” Graham said.
“I have been a military lawyer for 31 years. These people are not prisoners of war. They are unlawful enemy combatants, members of a terrorist organization. The war is not over when we leave Afghanistan. We’re fighting al-Qaeda, their affiliates, and people who provide material support, like the Taliban. These people will go back to the fight. President Obama has put Americans at risk all over the planet. And these people will go back to Afghanistan as sure as night follows day.”
The White House has argued that it did consult with Congress in the months before the swap as the possibility of a deal was being floated.
“And every time the president asked, we said hell no. Panetta said no. Gates said no. Dianne Feinstein said no. Lindsey Graham said no. Why would anybody in their right mind release the leaders with the Taliban with American blood on their hands, who have sworn to go back to the fight, to realign with al-Qaeda, to attack our country yet again?” Graham said. “…If you are really that dedicated to protecting our people, come clean with what you did during the Benghazi attack, Mr. President.”
“…The president is disconnected from the fact that radical Islam is a threat to our way of life.”