President Obama acknowledged today that five Taliban prisoners released in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may resume “activities” harmful to the United States, even as he continued to defend the deal.
“Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,” Obama said in a news conference with Poland’s president in Warsaw. “There’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place.”
Actually, there’s a lot of recidivism that takes place among released Gitmo detainees. And these latest bad guys released are hardened former leaders of the Taliban.
The administration has been vague on the terms of the deal and the restrictions that the Qataris, who are currently hosting the Taliban, must place on their activities. Nor do we know the duration of whatever kind of confinement they are under. However, Obama’s remarks today suggest clearly that the confinement is far from permanent.
Nevertheless, the president said he would never have allowed the exchange if he “thought it was contrary to U.S. national security.”
Obama also sought to justify his failure to alert Congress, saying lawmakers knew the White House “might” do such a trade and that he had to act fast.
“We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Bergdahl,” Obama said. “We saw an opportunity, and we were concerned about Bergdahl’s health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange and we seized that opportunity.”
The president said it didn’t matter, with respect to the decision to barter his release, whether or not Bergdahl was a deserter.
“Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity, period. Full stop. We don’t condition that,” the president said. “That’s what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over to the war theater should expect, not just from their commander in chief but from the United States of America.”