US might transfer some Gitmo prisoners to Qatar as part of Taliban negotiations

The United States could release five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar as part of negotiations with the Taliban.

Eight Senate leaders, including Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.), were briefed Tuesday by administration officials about the possible transfer of the Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo, Foreign Policy reported, the clearest sign that the first transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo in more than a year could occur.

During a Tuesday congressional hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did not dispute that the United States was considering the transfer in negotiations with the Taliban.

“This proposed so-called trade has actually not been decided yet,” Clapper said. “Theres continued consultation with the Congress.

“In almost every case where weve had hostilities, ... at some point in time there are negotiations. 

“I dont think anyone in the administration harbors any illusions about the potential here. Of course, part and parcel of such a decision, if it were finally made, would be the actual determination of where these detainees might go and the conditions in which they would be controlled or surveilled.”

Afghan officials said they would drop an earlier objection about sending the prisoners to a third country because of a plan to give the country a form of legal custody over them, according to The Associated Press.

Al Jazeera reported last month that the Talibans leaders said they would step up their “political efforts” to secure peace in Afghanistan, but they did not intend to give up their armed struggle as a precondition for negotiations. The Taliban recently established a political office in Qatar.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.), who was at Tuesday’s briefing, told Foreign Policy beforehand that the idea of a prisoner transfer is “highly questionable.”

“The whole idea that theyre going to ‘transfer these detainees in exchange for a statement by the Taliban? It is really, really bizarre,” McCain said. “This whole thing is highly questionable because the Taliban know we are leaving. I know many experts who would say they are rope-a-doping us.”