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NO EXCUSES: Taliban death threats didn't justify prisoner release, some say

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/5/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many are skeptical that Taliban threatened to kill Bowe Bergdahl

The White House is reportedly telling lawmakers that the Taliban threatened to kill Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl unless a swap of five suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay was made. One Senate aide says that senators were told at a briefing that "the U.S. obtained credible information that, if anything about the swap became public, Bergdahl would be killed." Already there is a hue and cry: that's no excuse to keep lawmakers in the dark.

Administration officials maintain that Congress was not really kept in the dark.

Administration officials maintain that Congress was not really kept in the dark.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/5/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Bowe Bergdahl, Taliban, Congress, secrets


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Several congressional officials say they were told the same story. The White House is currently struggling with a growing bipartisan backlash over trading five Taliban leaders for Bergdahl's freedom.

President Obama has been adamant in stating that the U.S. doesn't abandon its troops. Bergdahl's safety was paramount when making arrangements for the swap.

Several lawmakers say that the administration failed to notify them of the deal in advance. The administration is currently claiming that the threat on Bergdahl's life drove the administration to quickly make the deal to rescue him.  

One senior official calls this claim is "ridiculous," since "notifying Congress does not make it public."

Congressional sources say that leaders of the congressional intelligence committees were able to keep the secret when they were told "months in advance" about plans to go after Osama bin Laden.

Lawmakers, they say are "regularly trusted with sensitive information that is not made public."

Asked about the notion that a threat on Bergdahl's life was the reason for not notifying Congress, one House Republican aide said, "That's a flimsy, and frankly offensive, argument."

One source familiar says that information about the swap was not briefed to staff. "The Taliban did say Bergdahl was near his death bed, but not that they threatened to kill him," the source said.

A senior administration official would not comment directly on the claims, but said in a statement:

"Our judgment was that every day Sergeant Bergdahl was a prisoner his life was at risk, and in the video we received in January, he did not look well. This led to an even greater sense of urgency in pursuing his recovery.

"We can't disclose classified comments from a closed congressional briefing. However, we are able to say that the senators were told, separate and apart from Sergeant Bergdahl's apparent deterioration in health, that we had both specific and general indications that Sgt. Bergdahl 's recovery -- and potentially his life -- could be jeopardized if the detainee exchange proceedings were disclosed or derailed."

Administration officials maintain that Congress was not really kept in the dark.

"This was not a new deal," one official said, claiming it was essentially the same deal that was briefed to Congress in 2011 and early 2012.

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