Calling it “a great week for the Taliban,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Monday sharply criticized the Obama administration for its high-profile prisoner swap of “five high-ranking Taliban leaders” in exchange for American prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
“In effect, we released the ‘Taliban Dream Team,’” Graham wrote in a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. “The United States is less safe because of these actions.”
In his letter, Graham, a Republican, called on the Armed Services Committee to convene “an immediate hearing” on the exchange.
“The five terrorists released were the hardest of the hard-core,” Graham said. “They held positions of great importance within the hard-core anti-American Taliban, including the Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence. They have American blood on their hands and surely as night follows day they will return to the fight.”
On Saturday, President Obama announced during a Rose Garden news conference that his administration had negotiated the release of Bergdahl, who had been captive for five years.
The situation has been muddied by the fact that fellow soldiers have claimed Bergdahl deserted his unit before he was captured, and Americans were killed searching for him in Afghanistan.
“While I appreciate an American was released from captivity, this decision by the Obama Administration has serious implications for our future national security.”
Critics are questioning whether it was smart for America to negotiate with terrorists. “I fear President Obama’s decision will inevitably lead to more Americans being kidnapped and held hostage throughout the world,” Graham said.
And Republicans are also criticizing the administration for making a deal without giving Congress a heads up. Current law requires the administration to inform Congress of transfers of detainees at Guantanamo 30 days in advance.
“There are also questions about why the Administration failed to comply with the law,” Graham said. “We need a thorough review of this decision and I urge you to hold a hearing on this matter as it has profound implications for our national security.”
The names of those released include: Mohammad Fazl, Mohammad Nabi, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Nori and Khairullah Khairkhwa.
Graham ended his letter stating that, “With President Obama’s announcement of a total withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2016 – basically canceling an insurance policy to protect our homeland – and now releasing five Taliban leaders, it’s safe to say last week was a great week for the Taliban.”