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Top Republicans on the Senate and House Armed Services Committee criticized President Obama on Saturday for negotiating with the Taliban in freeing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the release of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

“Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Berghdal’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the Senate Armed Services ranking member and House Armed Services chairman, respectively, in a joint statement.

{mosads}A senior White House official said the U.S. transferred five Afghan Guantanamo detainees to Qatar as part of a “broader reconciliation framework” that was part of “successful indirect talks with the Taliban’s political commission.”

“The five detainees transferred are in the custody and of Qatar and will be subject to restrictions on their movement and activities,” the senior official said.

“As the Administration has repeatedly affirmed, we will not transfer any detainee from Guantanamo unless the threat the detainee may pose to the United States can be sufficiently mitigated and only when consistent with our humane treatment policy,” the official added.

Earlier Saturday Obama announced that the Taliban released 28 year-old Bergdahl, held for nearly five years by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan. Then came multiple reports that U.S. officials released five Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay. Those members are: Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Nori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari, according to multiple reports.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement that he was “eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists” do not return in fighting against the U.S. or its allies.

“These particular individuals are hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans and countless Afghans on their hands,” McCain said.

According to CNN: Khairkhwa was believed to be “directly associated” with Osama Bin Laden, as well as a “drug lord” and a friend of outgoing Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai; Fazi, Normi and Wasiq were top Taliban military officials, while Omari is the Taliban’s former chief of communications.

Inhofe and McKeon said that Obama “clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress thirty days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay.”

“Our joy at Sergeant Berghdal’s release is tempered by the fact that President Obama chose to ignore the law — not to mention sound policy — to achieve it,” they said in their statement.

Inhofe and McKeon also said that Taliban terrorists will now have a “strong incentive to capture Americans,” arguing that Obama’s actions set a precedent where terrorists will think the administration will trade prisoners to release others.

This story was updated at 5:14 p.m.


Tags Bowe Bergdahl Guantanamo Bay detention camp Taliban War in Afghanistan

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