GOP warns of detainees returning to Afghanistan
Republicans took to the airwaves on Sunday to warn that five Taliban fighters swapped for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are likely to rejoin the war in Afghanistan against the U.S.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he was “absolutely certain” at least three of the released Guantánamo Bay detainees would get back to the war once their one-year travel restriction in Qatar was lifted.
Talking on “This Week,” Rogers also said the Obama administration had not vetted all the available options to get Bergdahl home before making the prisoner swap.
Rogers’s comments were echoed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on CNN’s “State of the Union” and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
McCain, who had previously supported swapping five prisoners in the past for Bergdahl, said Sunday he did not expect it to be these particular Taliban fighters.
“I wouldn’t release these men, not these men. They were evaluated and judged as too great a risk to release,” he said to CNN’s Candy Crowley.
“I’m sad to tell you I’m afraid they’re going to re-enter the fight,” he added, warning ultimately their return could become even more dangerous because of Obama’s plans to remove all combat troops from Afghanistan.
Chambliss, the Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member, blasted the administration for not giving Congress 30 days notice before making the swap as required by law. The administration has argued Bergdahl’s life was in danger, and Obama was authorized to make the deal as commander in chief.
“Well, no intelligence supported [the assertion that Bergdahl’s life was in danger]. And now, they come back and because he is in decent health, considering where he’s been, they’ve changed their story,” Chambliss told CBS’s Bob Schieffer.
However, on “Fox News Sunday,” former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the administration broke the law but argued the law itself was unconstitutional.
“Article 2 makes him the commander in chief of the armed forces … and to the extent that statute purports to restrict his Article 2 powers, I think it’s unconstitutional, and he said so at the time he signed it,” he told Fox News’s Chris Wallace.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, while the president was justified in feeling proud for getting Bergdahl home, she too has concerns with the trade.
“You can’t help but worry about [the released Taliban fighters] in Doha,” she told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“And we have no information on how the United States is actually going to see that they remain in Doha, that they make no comments, that they do no agitations,” she added.
The politics being played out reportedly have already stalled releases of low-risk detainees from the Guantánamo Bay detention center that Obama has been trying to close down throughout his presidency.
Currently, 78 such detainees out of 149 are awaiting release to their home countries or third countries.
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