Bowe Bergdahl release: US intelligence officials ‘warned Obama that Guantanamo detainees would rejoin Taliban
Classified joint assessment from spy agencies predicted four of five freed Afghans would return to fight
US intelligence officials reportedly warned the Barack Obama administration that detainees freed from Guantanamo Bay as part of the release deal for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl would likely rejoin the Taliban.
An assessment document compiled jointly by the US’s intelligence community predicted that two of the five would return to senior positions in the Taliban leadership as it continues to fight to overthrow the government of Afghanistan.
Another two were expected to assume active roles in the fight, while the remaining detainee was described as “resentful” of the way he was arrested while trying to cooperate with the US, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The assessment, which was presented to the administration during classified briefings on the prisoner swap last week , will only fuel criticism from US politicians and commentators angry that President Obama failed to consult Congress in advance of the deal.
Today the Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, will become the first senior administration official to testify publicly about the way the release deal was conducted.
He will appear before the House Armed Services Committee, which is investigating the deal that secured the end of Sergeant Bergdahl's five-year captivity.
Private First Class(Pfc) Bowe Bergdahl, before his capture by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bergdahl went missing from his post in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009 Hagel will explain why the decision to make the trade was “the right one”, a Pentagon spokesperson said. He will say that the administration had a “very small, fleeting opportunity” to secure Bergdahl's release and had to seize the chance.
Critics in Congress remain unconvinced. The House Appropriations Committee has voted to add a provision to a $570 billion (£340 billion) defence spending bill that will prevent money being used for the future transfer of Guantanamo detainees.
“We don't negotiate with terrorists,” House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday. “We've made America less safe, here and around the world. And we're going to pay for this.”
Sergeant Bergdahl, an Idaho native, had been held captive since 2009, while the Afghan detainees had been at Guantanamo for more than a decade.
The five detainees are Mohammed Fazl, a former Taliban army chief of staff; Noorullah Noori, a former commander in northern Afghanistan; Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former interior minister; Mohammed Nabi Omari, another Taliban official; and Abdul Haq Wasiq, a deputy intelligence chief and the only one reportedly unlikely to rejoin the fight.
The two considered likely to resume senior leadership roles are Fazl and Khairkhwa, a senior US official told the Wall Street Journal. Under the terms of the prisoner swap deal, all five will remain in Qatar for a year where they will be monitored by security service personnel.
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