Tags: Al-Qaida | bowe bergdahl | gao | gtmo

We Need to Know More About Prisoner Exchange, Bergdahl

Image: We Need to Know More About Prisoner Exchange, Bergdahl

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrives for a pretrial hearing earlier this year at Fort Bragg, N.C. (AP) 

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Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016 12:26 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Oral arguments were heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last week in our appeal of a 2015 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking an Obama Defense Department memo regarding the exchange of five senior al Qaeda leaders held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Bergdahl walked off his post in Afghanistan, was held captive for five years and is now facing a court-martial (Judicial Watch v Department of Defense (No. 1:14-cv-01935)).

A lower court found that the document we are seeking, known as the “Lumpkin Memorandum,” was exempt from production under FOIA Exemption B5’s “deliberative process privilege.”

Judicial Watch contends that then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressly adopted the memo, making it a final agency decision. Final decisions are not protected from disclosure under the deliberative process privilege.

Bergdahl left his post and was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until May 2014. The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance and subsequent capture have become the subject of intense controversy.

He was released on May 31, 2014, as part of a prisoner exchange by the Obama administration, which included the five Taliban leaders.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Obama administration violated “clear and unambiguous” law in the prisoner swap. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 says that all prisoner transfers from Guantanamo Bay require 30 days’ notice to Congress. No such notice was provided in Bergdahl’s case.

This case takes on added importance as President Obama scrambles to release more captives from (GTMO) before he leaves office. His own intelligence advisers reveal that a growing number of inmates freed from the compound reengage in terrorism.

This is nothing new, and, in fact, it has been documented over the years in various government assessments. But this latest information comes in the midst of the administration’s frenzy to clear out the maximum-security facility in order to realize the president’s longtime dream of closing it.

The document Judicial Watch is seeking in this case, which was expressly adopted as the Defense Department’s final decision, will reveal the official rationales and what judgments were made in releasing the terrorists, and it should provide insight into how and why the process for evaluating potential prisoner releases has failed.

I was able to attend the appeals court hearing last week. Judicial Watch was ably represented by staff attorney Jason Aldrich and Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes. I’m not sure if this court will endorse continued secrecy, but I can tell you we are honored to battle on for the rule of law against this administration’s cover-up of its dangerous national security schemes.

In news related to the Bergdahl swap, a new report released in September 2016 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) shows that of the 161 GTMO detainees released by the Obama administration, nine are confirmed to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities.”

The ODNI, the broad agency that serves as an umbrella for the intelligence community and advises the president, also writes that 113 of the 532 GTMO captives released during the George W. Bush administration have engaged in terrorist activities since their release.

This demonstrates that the recidivism rate among this demographic group of hardened terrorists is dangerously high. Yet the administration keeps releasing more and more captives from the facility at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba.

The ODNI further reveals that at least two prisoners released from GTMO by Obama and two others released by Bush have returned to “terrorist activities” during the first half of this year alone. “Based on trends identified during the past eleven years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred,” according to the ODNI, which is composed of more than a dozen spy agencies, including Air Force, Army, Navy, Treasury and Coast Guard intelligence as well as the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The agency also stated in its report that around 500 detainees had been transferred to other countries though defense officials maintained that most should never have been released because they pose a serious threat to the United States.

A perfect example is an al Qaida operative who was put on a global terrorist list a few years after the U.S. released him from GTMO. Embarrassingly enough, the U.S. government even offered a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts. The Saudi national, Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, was repatriated back home under a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program that supposedly reformed Guantanamo Bay jihadists but instead has served as a training camp for future terrorists.

In fact, in 2008, counter-terrorism officials confirmed that many of the terrorists who return to “the fight” after being released from U.S. custody actually graduated from the laughable Saudi rehab program, which started under President Bush and continued under President Obama.

You can see how this “catch and release” policy began under a Republican administration and continued under a Democratic administration. So you can see why we must remain vigilant even as Obama turns the Oval Office over to President-elect Trump.

Tom Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch. He is a nationally recognized expert on government corruption. A former talk radio and television host and analyst, Tom is well known across the country as a national spokesperson for the conservative cause. He has been quoted in Time, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and most every other major newspaper in the country. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

 


 

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TomFitton
The document Judicial Watch is seeking will reveal the official rationales and what judgments were made in releasing terrorists; it should provide insight into how and why the process for evaluating potential prisoner releases has failed.
bowe bergdahl, gao, gtmo
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2016-26-22
Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016 12:26 PM
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