To justify a controversial prisoner-of-war swap that was done behind Congress' back, the Obama administration has gone from grasping at straws to engaging in outright misrepresentation, LIGNET chief intelligence analyst and Newsmax contributor Fred Fleitz said on Tuesday.
"I'm contending that the Congress, the intelligence community, and the American people have been repeatedly misled about the Bergdahl deal," Fleitz told "Midpoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV.
Fleitz, a CIA veteran and former House Intelligence Committee staff member, pointed to a string of changing rationales for the trade that freed captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and sent five Taliban battlefield commanders
from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to house arrest with shopping privileges in Qatar.
"First, the White House said this was because of Bergdahl's safety and his health," Fleitz said. "Then they said that Congress wasn't informed in advance because the Taliban said this needs to be kept secret: Other factions may kill Bergdahl if you do anything."
On Tuesday, said Fleitz, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois claimed
that the reason "Congress wasn't informed was because the details of the deal were only made public a day in advance."
If any of these stated reasons were true, said Fleitz, "what the president should have done was to tell [Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne] Feinstein and senior congressional leaders the minute Bergdahl was released."
Instead, he said, "They didn't talk to Feinstein until two days after this happened."
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Fleitz offered likely reasons for all the secrecy: "The president was doing something politically controversial, he knew Congress would be opposed to it, and he is telegraphing his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility — empty it out before he leaves office, regardless of what Congress thinks and regardless of the law."
Guantanamo still houses 149 inmates caught during post-9/11 military operations abroad. An estimated 30 percent of the inmates released so far have returned to the battlefield, said Fleitz.
He said the five Taliban released for Bergdahl were "on the indefinite detention list," meaning they were considered likelier than most detainees to resume hostilities against the United States, given the chance.
Fleitz said the administration will probably continue the releases and save the most dangerous detainees until after the 2016 presidential election.
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