Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) left a closed-door briefing on the Bowe Bergdahl swap last night saying there is unanimity in believing that the Taliban five will like return to the fight.
“To me what is most concerning is that everyone agrees that the five Taliban detainees that were released are extremely dangerous and after their one-year confinement in Qatar is over, they can go wherever they want. Their return is also being celebrated by the Taliban in Afghanistan and each one of these men have horrendous records that really make me question the decision to release them,” Collins told CNN.
Administration officials pulled together the classified Hill briefing for senators as dissension grew within the president’s own party about the terms of the swap.
Collins said officials “acknowledged that at least four out of five, and in some cases the judgment is all five of these Taliban detainees are extremely dangerous, and that they pose a threat in the future to our country.”
“The likelihood based on all of the briefings and evidence that I have seen as a member of the intelligence committee and in the press reports and the briefing today indicates that a very high likelihood that these men will return to the fight and that is very disturbing,” she added.
Bergdahal should get “due process” in the Army system of justice as the details are investigated, she said, but “it’s very interesting to me that they would be willing to release five extraordinarily dangerous Taliban members in exchange for this soldier who apparently left his post.”
Members were also shown the proof-of-life videos, which haven’t been released to the public, that led the administration to make the conclusion that Bergdahl’s life was in danger and immediate rescue was needed.
“I saw an individual who looked like he had been drugged. I did not — it was very difficult to judge his medical condition. I’m not a physician. I have asked whether there is any evidence that he has a serious illness or was about to be killed. And I have not received such evidence,” Collins said. “But a lot of that takes place in a classified session and I can’t really go into the details of that.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said after the briefing that the video “did not sell me at all.”
“The proof of life was basically five months ago. December? At that time he was impaired,” Manchin said. “That is not the person that was released here. He was not in that type of dire situation when he was released.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told reporters that Bergdahl appeared “drugged” and “barely responsive” in the video.
“I don’t think from a health standpoint there was any issue that dictated the release of these five nasty killers in exchange for Bergdahl,” Chambliss added.
“I certainly have the same serious concerns as before,” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said. “This puts loyal, patriotic service members and Americans at risk.”