Feinstein: The Taliban Isn't Relenting in Afghanistan

Sunday, 08 Jun 2014 01:49 PM

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Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the committee's vice chairman, say they're still in the dark about the latest news about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

That includes reports Sunday that he was imprisoned in a shark cage while under custody by the Taliban for trying to escape.

"I've heard rumors about the escape, as far as keeping him in a cage and what not," Chambliss, R-Ga., told CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer Sunday. "Nobody has made any effort to contact me from the [Obama] administration."




Schieffer noted that CBS News wasn't waved away from telling the story about Bergdahl and the cage, although the Pentagon wouldn't confirm the story, either.

"I think they're going to be a lot of things that Bergdahl tells the army and medical folks that he's talking to now that going to be very difficult to validate," Chambliss said. "That's not to say they're not absolutely true. But we weren't there."

Chambliss suspects that there may be rumors coming out about what Berghdahl is saying, and other actual statements that will be difficult to validate.

Last week, Chambliss, after a closed door meeting by the White House
to convince Congress that it made the right move in the prisoner exchange, said the White House "played this so close to the vest intentionally, and made a determination not to give Congress notice."

Chambliss said his criticism has focused on the lack of notification. He said he could understand an emergency situation in which 30 days' notice would not be possible, but the deal was in the works long enough that a few days' notice would have been doable.

"It was like they didn't trust Dianne [Feinstein] and me," said Chambliss.

On Sunday, Chambliss also disputed statements made by the administration that it doesn't brief Congress about its operations such as the Bergdahl trade.

"I can't imagine anybody in the administration being able to look the American public in the eye, saying we never briefed members of Congress on ongoing operations," said Chambliss. "The classic example of that is the bin Laden operation."

He told Schieffer he and Feinstein, D-Calif., knew for "months and months" about the bin Laden operation.

"I'll never forget the phone call I got from an excited Leon Panetta telling me that bin Laden had been taken down," said Chambliss. "Not a day goes by, Bob, that I don't get briefed on some classified aspect of our intelligence community, a lot of which is ongoing operations."

In addition, Chambliss said, the a video taken last year showing a thinner Bergdahl is also in question, because no intelligence now supports that the soldier was in bad health.

"Now they come back and because he is in decent health considering where he's been, they changed their story," said Chambliss. "They said, no, we suspected his life may be in danger if word got out of this pending possible trade ... Again, I can just tell you there is no intelligence to support that."

Feinstein told Schieffer that the administration has kept its information on Bergdahl "very close, and in the eyes of many of us, too close."

The release, she said, has a long history that dates back to 2011, when it was part of a reconciliation effort with the Taliban.

"That measure was the release of these five Taliban detainees," she said. "And there was feeling that if you release them up front there would be no reconciliation, but if you release them after progress or at the end ... you might get a reconciliation agreement. And that subsequently apparently fell apart"

"It's a mixed bag at best," said Feinstein. "Should we see that our G.I.S who are taken hostage are returned, absolutely. And one of the things that vice chairman of the joint chiefs made very clear was that the army will look at this very carefully.

The military will make its decision if Bergdahl will need to be tried in a military court, said Feinstein, and that's the way she thinks it should be.

"What's unfortunate is that I see no sign of the Taliban relenting," she said. "I have deep concern that they have tried to kill the new elected president of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah who I happen to know."

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