Tags: Afghanistan | Al-Qaida | War on Terrorism | Taliban | leaders | exchanged | Bowe Bergdahl

House GOP: 'Taliban 5' Released for Bergdahl Soon Free to Fight Again

By    |   Thursday, 28 May 2015 05:34 PM

Five Taliban terrorists swapped for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last May 31 could soon march right back onto the battlefield when their travel ban is lifted, House Republicans are warning.

In a statement, GOP Reps. Mac Thornberry of Texas, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, chairwoman of the panel's Oversight and Investigation subcommittee, noted President Barack Obama transferred the "senior Taliban terrorists" from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar, where they were to have been monitored by the government and restricted from travel for a year, The Hill reports.

The "flimsy restrictions" expire Sunday, the lawmakers note.

"This will endanger our troops abroad and our families at home," they warn, adding:

"Congress and the American people are right to be concerned about the increased risk to our nation’s safety now that these five dangerous men are no longer securely held" at the Guantanamo detention facility.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham had also sounded an alarm in January that at least one of the detainees had met with members of the al-Qaida-affiliated Haqqani network while they were in Qatar, saying he expected the militants to return to the fight.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee wrote Obama earlier this month urging him to work with Qatar to maintain travel restrictions on the former detainees, The Hill reports, but so far, no changes have been announced.

"If, as scheduled, Qatar permits these five former detainees to possess passports and travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan when the [memorandum of understanding] expires on June 1, they will be at liberty to play an even more direct role in attacks against the men and women of our military," the May 13 letter said, according to The Hill.

The House Armed Services Committee is investigating the administration's decision to swap the Taliban detainees for Bergdahl, accusing the Obama administration of ignoring a law to give Congress advance notice of any detainee release 30 days ahead of time.

But Thornberry and Hartzler complain the probe has been "hampered by the White House and the State Department, which have refused to allow DOD to turn over material critical to the investigation," but vow: "Our investigation continues, and we hope that we will soon be able to present our findings to the public. Understanding why and how this came about is the responsibility of the Congress, one we intend to carry out."

The pressure from the House lawmakers comes as retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal asserts Bergdahl willfully left his base in 2009 in Afghanistan before being captured by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network.

McChrystal told Fox News he'd been in command for about a month when Bergdahl disappeared, Politico reports.

"And my initial understanding, based upon the reportings I got, that he had walked off intentionally," he said, adding he didn't know for sure if Bergdahl left in June 2009 with the intent of being picked up by the Taliban or simply "walked off."

Bergdahl was released from captivity May 31, 2014, as part of a swap of the five Taliban detainees, and was later charged with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy.

Army officials announced last month initial hearings in his case would begin in July at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

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Five Taliban terrorists swapped for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last May 31 could soon march right back onto the battlefield when their travel ban is lifted, House Republicans are warning.
Taliban, leaders, exchanged, Bowe Bergdahl, House, Republicans, fight, again
Thursday, 28 May 2015 05:34 PM
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