Americans are naturally eager to end the long war in Afghanistan, but that does not mean we should dismiss the threat that violent terrorist groups, such as the Taliban, pose to our nation.
Without any consultation with Congress, the Obama Administration plunged into negotiations with terrorists to release five terrorist leaders in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. The men released from Guantanamo Bay, the “Taliban 5,” were all high-level officials in the Taliban regime who gave aid and support to al Qaida in Afghanistan in the period leading up to the 9/11 attacks. President Obama has conceded there is “absolutely” a chance that one, if not all, members of the Taliban 5 will return to the battlefield to attack Americans once again.
These terrorists were complicit in the attacks that took nearly 3,000 innocent lives on September 11, 2001. American soldiers sacrificed their lives to capture these terrorists and lock them away in a place where they can do no further harm. Now they have been set free to plot further attacks on Americans, and American soldiers may well once again have to go into harm’s way to neutralize them. It is difficult to fathom why President Obama would put our soldiers in the position of answering the same call of duty twice.
President Obama must explain how this policy makes us safer.
There is no ambiguity regarding the danger posed by the Taliban 5. Each one of the former prisoners was designated “high risk” by the Guantanamo Review Task Force convened on the orders of President Obama. Two of the five are wanted by the United Nations for war crimes against Afghan civilians.
Khalrullah Khalrkhwa, for example, was described in his case file as “a hard-liner in Taliban philosophy” with “close ties to Osama bin Laden.” Mohammad Fazl was second in command of the Taliban army in 2001.
In fact, the current Taliban leadership recently declared President Obama’s deal has created a significant incentive to kidnap more American soldiers. Last week, one top Taliban commander told Time magazine: “It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people. It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”
Specifically, the Obama Administration should disclose who did the vetting that resulted in the assessment that the Taliban 5 were no longer a threat to the United States; whether the president was fully briefed on the their background and likelihood of recidivism; how the administration reached its apparently high level of confidence that the Taliban 5 will be secure in Qatar; and how the decision made to ignore the law and bypass Congress, including the chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence, Foreign Relations, and Armed Services Committees.
In order to give the Obama Administration the space and time needed to answer these questions, I will this week introduce legislation to freeze, for six months, all federal funding for transferring detainees from Guantanamo.
The Obama Administration can be expected to resist; indeed, President Obama is reportedly considering releasing more terrorists from Guantanamo despite the public outcry about the Taliban 5.
Congress must act.
Not one more drop of American blood should be shed over terrorists that U.S. troops have already sacrificed life and limb to capture.
Our president should need no reminder that thousands of innocents perished at the hands of terrorists on 9/11. The Taliban 5 he has released played a direct part in those murders. It’s now upon him to explain how their release makes America safer.