Harry Reid Praised Swap That Released Taliban Fighter Seeking to Return to Terrorism

AP Photo
AP Photo

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), when he was Senate Majority leader, praised the prisoner exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five top-level Taliban commanders, including one who is now suspected of reengaging in terrorist activities.

The controversial exchange was negotiated by President Obama, who violated the law by not notifying Congress in advance.

Military and intelligence sources tell CNN that one of the five Taliban detainees released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in May 2014 has already attempted to return to terrorism.

“The U.S. military and intelligence community now suspect that one of the five Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May of last year has attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar,” CNN reported Thursday.

In June 2014, then-Senate Majority Leader Reid commended the prisoner swap, saying that he was glad the five Taliban commanders were being transferred to Qatar.

Reid was asked during a press conference on June 3, 2014, “Do you think there’s a real problem with these five individuals from the Taliban being released in exchange for one U.S. soldier? Does it set a bad precedent?”

“Guantanamo has been there far too long, and I think that we should get them out of there as quickly as we can,” responded Reid. “We’ve been held up from doing that by the Republicans, not wanting any of them to be tried here in the United States, even though our record here is really quite good.”

“So I’m glad to get rid of these five people, send them back to Qatar, and I think the arrangements made there are, as far as I understand, what’s been explained to me, adequate,” he added.

Reid was reportedly the only U.S. lawmaker who knew of the prisoner exchange prior to the White House announcing it.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was the only congressional leader told in advance of the Obama administration’s controversial plans,” reported Politico on June 3, 2014. “He was informed on Friday, before Bergdahl’s release became public, he told reporters.”

On May 31, 2014, Reid released a statement in support of President Obama’s negotiations to release Bergdahl.

“I commend the diplomats, service members, and others who worked tirelessly to bring Sergeant Bergdahl home, and I commend President Obama for taking decisive action to achieve the agreement leading to his release when the opportunity arose,” stated Reid.

The Nevada Senator accused members of Congress who were concerned about the backlash from the Bergdahl exchange of playing politics.

“Opponents of President Obama have seized upon the release of an American prisoner of war — that’s what he was — using what should be a moment of unity and celebration for our nation as a chance to play political games,” he said on the Senate floor in early June 2014. “The safe return of an American soldier should not be used for political points. When a man or woman puts on the uniform as a United States serviceman, they have America’s uncompromising support.”

Bergdahl is facing desertion charges. Obama has vowed to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention center and has been speeding up the transfer of detainees out of the prison.


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