U.S. Intelligence Anticipates Four Of The Freed ‘Taliban Five’ Will Return To Terror
June 11, 2014 by Ben Bullard
According to high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials, the odds strongly favor the eventual re-assimilation into the Taliban terror network of four Taliban members whom the Administration of President Barack Obama released last week in exchange for the freedom of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
At a Senate briefing last week, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Robert Cardillo advised lawmakers that only one of the freed prisoners — former high-ranking Taliban operative Abdul Haq Wasiq — does not appear likely to rejoin a regional militia or terror cell, according to a report Monday at Obama-friendly news website The Daily Beast (TDB).
Although TDB devotes a requisite amount of its story space to a poignant justification for the Obama Administration’s decision to act quickly and independently of the Congressional vetting process required under Federal law to release the five Guantanamo detainees, the site nevertheless acknowledges U.S. intelligence knew what the White House was risking before the deal was done:
According to a pair of U.S. officials, the briefing from Robert Cardillo, a deputy director of national intelligence, represented the latest community-wide U.S. intelligence assessment on these Taliban Five, completed in 2013.
It also means that President Obama was faced with a particularly excruciating choice as he weighed whether or not to swap these five for American hostage Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The government of Qatar, which agreed to look after the five Taliban leaders as part of the deal for Bergdahl, warned that factions within the Taliban were growing impatient, and campaigning to kill Bergdahl instead of trading him.
“Time is not on your side,” they told U.S. negotiators, according to two senior defense officials.
… It all added up to a painful dilemma for the White House: free Taliban leaders who might return to the fight–or risk losing America’s last service member held abroad. Obama ultimately chose to make the deal, despite his intelligence services’ estimate that four of the five Taliban detainees would ultimately resume their struggle against American allies.
Obama himself admitted as much in a remarkably defiant statement when he met with reporters in Poland last week.
“We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,” Obama said. “We have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if in fact they are engaging in activities that threaten our defenses.”
That begs the obvious question: If their behavior is so predictable, and so likely to threaten national security, why set them free in the first place?