WH plays down threat from released Taliban

Taliban detainees released in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl do not pose a risk to the United States, the White House insisted Friday — despite reports that one of the five men has made contact with former associates in Afghanistan.

“None of these individuals has returned to the battlefield. None of them is allowed to travel outside Qatar. And none has engaged in physical violence,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.


The White House spokesman said each of the former detainees was subject to monitoring measures, and that the administration continued “to have confidence there are measures in place to substantially mitigate the threat they pose to American national security.”

CNN reported on Thursday that one of the five men has attempted to return to militancy and been in touch with associates in Afghanistan, prompting an internal debate within the U.S. government about whether he posed a new threat.

The administration has never fully disclosed the terms of the deal, brokered with the Qatar government, to secure the release of Bergdahl. But the White House has said it received assurances that the released men would not become a threat.

Earnest said the United States was “regularly in touch” with the Qataris, and that the news did nothing to change the administration’s feeling that the swap was the right thing to do and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed.

Earnest said the president believed in the principle of leaving no man behind, that it was right to retrieve Bergdahl, and that Guantanamo “only serves as a recruitment tool for terrorists,” terrorist groups exploiting contempt for the prison to recruit new members.

“The president believes it is an easy call that we need to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” he said.