Former House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra said on Friday that President Obama wants so badly to empty the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and shut down what his predecessor built that, "he really doesn't care what the cost is."
Calling Obama "ideologically driven" to get the country off its post-9/11 war footing, Hoekstra told Newsmax TV that the president "wants to drain the swamp but all he's doing is, he's diverting the swamp water to other places."
Hoekstra cited the five Taliban battlefield commanders sent to Qatar from Guantanamo in exchange for captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: "What we've done is we've just released back to the Taliban the equivalent of their Joint Chiefs of Staff, their war council."
In his daily intelligence roundup for "America's Forum," Hoekstra also addressed a Fox News report that said that, even amid outrage over the Bergdahl swap, the White House is mulling the release of yet another Guantanamo detainee.
"The president is acting like the war is over," Hoekstra told "Forum" hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman, and Newsmax contributor Francesca Page.
"Our troops are out of Iraq, our troops are going to be out of Afghanistan," he said. "In his mind, he's saying, 'The war is over; I can now start releasing more and more of these very dangerous people in Gitmo because the war is over.' "
"Mr. President, the war is not over," said Hoekstra.
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Hoekstra also criticized the timing of the trade — in the run-up to Afghan elections, and with the Taliban still a destabilizing force bent on stopping Afghanistan's steps toward democracy.
"We are repopulating the Taliban with their leadership just as Afghanistan is going through a critical time of American troops being pulled out, a new president coming into office," he said. "And this very, very difficult attempt for representative government is being undercut by the actions of the Obama administration."
Hoekstra delved into the Taliban's dealings with another U.S. adversary: the notorious Haqqani network, a "thug mafia," in Hoesktra's words, which does business without scruples and which apparently had a role
in Bergdahl's capture and five-year confinement.
Hoekstra said that under one scenario, the Taliban — looking for a bargaining chip for their compatriots held in Guantanamo — go to the Haqqanis with some kind of offer for custody of Bergdahl.
"So the guy was maybe ransomed twice," he said.
Hoekstra said the unconfirmed portraits of Bergdahl that have emerged since his release — accused deserter, potential Taliban sympathizer
— have been a problem for officials who unreservedly praised the deal.
With congratulatory Web comments deleted, and even a hometown welcoming party called off, Hoekstra said one of the morals of the still-unfolding story is, "Be careful what you tweet."
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