Democratic Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein rejected Secretary of State John Kerry’s strong assertion that the five dangerous Taliban prisoners released from Gitmo will not return to fight Americans — noting it’s “hard to be comfortable when you really haven’t been briefed.”
The California Democrat spoke Sunday with CBS’ Bob Schieffer Sunday about last weekend’s prisoner swap, which saw five top Taliban officials released to the Gulf nation of Qatar in return for Army Sgt. and likely deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
President Obama ignored federal law during the swap by failing to provide Congress a 30-day notification before making the transfer from Guantanamo Bay — an oversight that particularly rankled Feinstein as head of the Senate intelligence committee.
“Do you worry, Senator, if I take what you’re saying here, that the deal may have put other American lives in danger?” Schieffer asked.
“Well, I can’t certainly say that. I don’t know,” Feinstein replied. “But I can say that the way it started out in 2011, these five were to be held in house arrest in Doha, [Qatar]. Now there is no house arrest. They have the country, which is very small, to be about in.”
“Secretary Kerry made a very strong statement saying ‘We have ways,’” she noted, “‘and we will see that they do not defect, move, speak, whatever.’ And we’ll see.”
“You’re not as comfortable with that though, apparently, as he is?” Schieffer noted.
“Well, it’s hard to be comfortable when you really haven’t been briefed on the intricacies of carrying out this agreement,” Feinstein agreed — adding later that the administration’s claim that Congress was briefed before all this began “isn’t necessarily true.”
With operations before this one, she explained, top congressional officials like herself “at least [had] some knowledge and [could make] some comment. That’s never been the case with this particular situation, so it hits us as a real surprise.”