US senator: Pentagon must watch Taliban swapped for Bergdahl
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican senator asked the Pentagon on Wednesday to take every reasonable step to make sure that the five Taliban leaders released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are not allowed to return to the battlefield in Afghanistan.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte noted that the one-year travel ban the so-called Taliban 5 faced when they were released and sent to Qatar will expire June 1.
“No American should ever have to confront a former Guantanamo detainee on the battlefield,” she wrote. “Based on disturbing public reports regarding the Taliban 5, I am concerned that the administration is not doing enough to prevent that from happening.”
Ayotte also reiterated her opposition to the swap, which the Obama administration conducted without notifying Congress. Bergdahl was held by the Tailban for five years. The U.S. military charged him Wednesday with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
The swap set off a debate over whether the U.S. should have released the Taliban detainees. Little is known about what the five have been doing in Qatar where they are being monitored by the government.
Some lawmakers have predicted that the five would return to the battlefield. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has said that he received information that one of the five has been in touch with members of the Haqqani network. On the flip side, Afghanistan’s peace council in 2011 requested the release of one of the five, Khairullah Khairkhwa, from Guantanamo because it thought he might be able to help foster reconciliation talks with the Taliban.