Report: Gitmo detainees may have learned of Bergdahl swap before Congress did

posted at 8:01 pm on June 9, 2014 by Allahpundit

Of course they did. Only one of these two groups has any accountability leverage over Obama. That’s the group, naturally, that had to be kept in the dark.

The information was available on a need-to-know basis and the people’s representatives, in the White House’s judgment, simply didn’t need to know.

Sources with knowledge of the transfer tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD that prisoners at Guantanamo understood in the days before the transfer that something significant was imminent and may well have known who was being transferred. The security profile at Guantanamo had been raised, these sources say, and the daily routines of several prisoners had been broken up.

Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York who has represented detainees, told the Associated Press that the coming transfer was hardly a secret among the prison population. Kassem told the AP that the guards explained the heightened security as cautionary measures taken in advance of a coming hurricane. “The prisoners saw right through that and knew something big was up,” Kassem said. “Within a day or two of the event, everyone knew.”

The five Taliban members spent most of their time in recent years held at Camp 6, a relatively low-restriction facility where detainees are free to interact with one another. Each prisoner to be transferred typically goes through a series of pre-release procedures, including a physical examination. One source tells TWS that there is virtually no chance the five Taliban commanders didn’t understand what was coming, particularly because they would have all been subject to that pre-release processing.

A U.S. official disputes the theory that the Taliban Five would have necessarily gone through the telltale pre-release procedures, but if that’s true, it’s interesting in itself. Why would the standard protocol have been skipped? Were they worried that knowing the Five were on their way out might have fired up the other detainees and risked some sort of riot, or were the procedures skipped because O’s inner circle feared the news would somehow make it back to Congress via U.S. personnel stationed at Gitmo?

This wasn’t the only unorthodox procedure followed in the Bergdahl case, if you believe the Washington Times:

The Obama administration gave the parents of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl extraordinary insider access to the military’s hunt for their son by having them take part in a series of secure video conferences with senior commanders as well as White House and State Department officials.

A former government official involved in American hostage issues said he had never heard of giving a family such access and questioned whether sensitive information could have been conveyed to Robert and Jani Bergdahl and somehow leaked out. A family spokesman said he knows of no such breach…

There [at National Guard headquarters in Boise] they were hooked into secure video conferences that included representatives of U.S. Central Command, which runs the war in Afghanistan, as well as with White House, State Department and intelligence officials.

It’s appropriate that the Bergdahls were kept updated on Bowe’s whereabouts but they didn’t need to patch them through to the CENTCOM uplink to do that. Having an Army spokesman stay in touch by phone or visit to deliver the latest news would have sufficed. Was it because his parents were so outspoken for so long about bringing him home that the White House felt obliged to give them unusual access? Better to keep the Bergdahls friendly to the administration than hostile, stirring up political trouble by accusing them of having abandoned a man behind enemy lines. Remember, too, that it was the Bergdahls who first tipped the media in May 2012 to the fact that a prisoner swap for their son was in the offing. The NYT speculated at the time that the White House might have nudged them to leak that, since it would have left Obama and his aides free to talk more openly about the deal. Which is fine, except that … the big takeaway from the past week is that the White House was desperate to keep the deal secret, for murky and ever-evolving reasons. Did Bob Bergdahl really leak the news about a swap deliberately in 2012 or did he accidentally spill the beans about something he learned during this CENTCOM briefings? And why did Obama feel it important to keep him posted on the precise mechanism by which Bowe would be brought home instead of just reassuring him that “we have a plan”?

Via the Free Beacon, here’s the State Department’s spokesman insisting she hasn’t heard anything about a ransom being paid for Bergdahl. Maybe that’s on a need-to-know basis too.


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Benedict Arnold chose to put on the uniform, too. Did he serve with ‘honour and distinction,’ too?

Col Ralph Peters nails it, again:

But won’t the brass stand up for fairness, military discipline, and justice? The bitter truth is that they haven’t thus far. Our generals knew within days of Bergdahl’s abandonment of his post that the evidence was overwhelming that he had deserted (ask them, under oath). But they made the decision to keep it quiet. The initial reason General Petraeus gave to me just days after Bergdahl walked off was that the military wished to shield Bergdahl’s parents.

Here’s where it gets interesting and ugly. The “noble POW” story took off politically. Commander after commander played along (as did Congress). Worse, the Army itself tried to beatify Bergdahl as some sort of hero-martyr to the troops, printing up solidarity posters and even creating life-size pasteboard cutouts of Bergdahl. Naturally, the troops knew it was BS (you can’t fool Private Snuffy very long, and word soon gets around). The agitprop was amateurish but outrageous (majors put up the posters, and sergeants rolled their eyes). Every officer involved in that effort should be relieved of duty.

It’s time for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, to man up. He inherited this Big Lie, but he shouldn’t pass it on. It’s his duty to follow the legal orders of our commander-in-chief, but it’s not his duty to provide cover for the president’s political shenanigans. As for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, he’s clearly a lost cause on this case, with his claim that you can’t prove that any soldiers died because of Bergdahl, even though they were killed while the massive search for Bergdahl was underway and they died where they otherwise would not have been. (Dear Secretary Hagel: From one former sergeant to another former sergeant, show a glimmer of decency. You’re acting like some damned officer.)

As for President Obama himself, there’s far more news to tell. For all his pretensions about his regard for the troops, this man has lavished vastly more attention on the family of a deserter than any other military family has ever received from him (just as Bergdahl is getting more intensive medical attention than a genuine hero would). And you’re thinking, “Rose Garden,” right? But this has gone on for years, with a full colonel or brigadier general ordered to report to the Bergdahl family every three to six months with an update about their son. Has the White House taken so great an interest in the families of those who’ve been gravely wounded in the line of duty? Or of those who died? No, it has not. The White House fell in love with a family clearly several raisins short of a full bowl of granola. Not despite their son’s desertion, but because of it.

Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl, too, have been Obama’s pawns. Our outrage should aim at the president, not them.

Of course, Private Bergdahl himself is the perfect soldier for those whose concept of our military was formed by Oliver Stone movies. Reportedly disillusioned with the war, he just walks away, a model of nobility, to seek out the enemy and find common ground. Bergdahl is a hero — for everyone on the left who despises our military. It’s a shame Sean Penn’s too old to play the role.

Meanwhile, with a straight face, Obama and his fellow travelers in the White House and media caution us not to “pre-judge” Bergdahl. That would have been a more credible plea before the president and his advisers pre-judged Bergdahl as a hero.

In closing, let me paraphrase the words of a fine U.S. Army lawyer from the past: “Mr. President, have you no shame?”

Continue reading.

Resist We Much on June 9, 2014 at 8:06 PM

How long before Obama starts claiming he was unaware of the trade until he saw himself on the news announcing it?

myiq2xu on June 9, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Another glaring example of Obama’s lawlessness. But to quote Hillary Clinton, “At this point, what difference does it make” Obama commits Treason, and 99% of the country would rather cut their own tongues out rather than publicly admit that he did so. the word treason is far to frightening a word for them to type, let alone utter. Eric Holder apparently was right, America is a nation of Cowards.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Why not…

BigGator5 on June 9, 2014 at 8:08 PM

OH! That`s the Congress he listens to!

ThePrez on June 9, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Report: Gitmo detainees may have learned of Bergdahl swap before Congress did

And they got to see a doctor before our veterans did…

Electrongod on June 9, 2014 at 8:10 PM

White House now blaming Hagel:

https://mobile.twitter.com/OutFrontCNN/status/476145559129300992

esr1951 on June 9, 2014 at 8:11 PM

This gets worse and worse.

rbj on June 9, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Here’s the thing. I would rather put up with all of obama’s BS than spend one day in republican-controlled america. Where gay reparative therapy and creationism are seen as good ideas, and separation of church and state is a suggestion, not a rule.
 
So you could say Democrats win votes based on what they aren’t. It’s not ideal, it’s what we got.
 
triple on June 9, 2014 at 2:33 PM

rogerb on June 9, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Has Obama heard about it on TV yet?

VorDaj on June 9, 2014 at 8:27 PM

RWM: Actually, Benedict Arnold did serve the country with “honor and distinction” — at least until he was crippled by the wounds he received during the Battle of Saratoga.

FWIW . . .

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:28 PM

Thanks, Barack & Hillary! The Taliban Now Has Modern U.S. Stinger Missiles!

Resist We Much on June 9, 2014 at 8:25 PM

So… during a time of war Barack Obama gave weapons to our enemies, released 5 of their top generals, and paid them millions of dollars. How in the name of God is there anyone in America who does not see this as a perfect example of Article 3 Section 3 Clause 1′s definition of TREASON?

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Where gay reparative therapy and creationism are seen as good ideas, and separation of church and state is a suggestion, not a rule.

So you could say Democrats win votes based on what they aren’t. It’s not ideal, it’s what we got.

triple on June 9, 2014 at 2:33 PM

rogerb on June 9, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Can you imagine? I was always told that gays don’t want to be the way they are. They were born that way!

I would imagine if I were the father of a retarded child, mental or birth defect, and I wanted my child to be normal,in triple’s world reparative anything is a no-no. What a dickwad!

Judge_Dredd on June 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Dear Leader probably sent his brothers a little note, Sorry I couldn’t get you out any sooner. Praise be to Allah, BHO……LOL

d1carter on June 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

White House now blaming Hagel:

https://mobile.twitter.com/OutFrontCNN/status/476145559129300992

esr1951 on June 9, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Is Hagel really going to fall on his sword for Obama?

WH officials say Secy. Hagel made the final call on #Bergdahl swap.

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

None of this would be surprising if the deal was made the week of the release, and not the product of months or years of ongoing negotiations.

By claiming the deal was done because of BB’s failing health, they’ve admitted there was a line of communication open with those -or someone who could easily reach those who were holding him.

So, the VA scandal blows up, the PR folks in the White House conduct the five D’s of dodgeball, and when that doesn’t put out the fire, someone spitballs about turning O into a hero by bringing back the kid. They all remember the impromptu celebrations after the bin Laden announcement, surely they’re expecting something approaching that by bringing back the “last American POW.” A call is made and the deal is struck. Only, they can’t notify Congress 30 days prior because in their minds, they can’t keep answering dead veterans questions for another month.

They arrange for the transfer and go forward with it. That’s when they realize they’ve got a little problem with the law, so they fall back on the signing statement and count on the press to carry the water. Hell, it’s worked before -countless times now- why not again?

And ultimately, it probably will.

BKeyser on June 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

RWM: Actually, Benedict Arnold did serve the country with “honor and distinction” — at least until he was crippled by the wounds he received during the Battle of Saratoga.

FWIW . . .

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:28 PM

So, are you suggesting that serving with Honor and distinction make later committing treason noble or acceptable?

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:31 PM

White House now blaming Hagel:

https://mobile.twitter.com/OutFrontCNN/status/476145559129300992

esr1951 on June 9, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Yeah, it was all Hagel’s call…..he’s not too sharp.

d1carter on June 9, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Here’s the thing. I would rather put up with all of obama’s BS than spend one day in republican-controlled america. Where gay reparative therapy and creationism are seen as good ideas, and separation of church and state is a suggestion, not a rule.

So you could say Democrats win votes based on what they aren’t. It’s not ideal, it’s what we got.

triple on June 9, 2014 at 2:33 PM

rogerb on June 9, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Holy Moses…better buy a ticket now sweetheart…..you and you ilk are fixin’ to become a thing of the past…there are still plenty of people out here with more common sense than God gave geese…Unlike yourself…

Thanks Obama!!!!

BigWyo on June 9, 2014 at 8:35 PM

White House now blaming Hagel:

https://mobile.twitter.com/OutFrontCNN/status/476145559129300992

esr1951 on June 9, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Yeah, it was all Hagel’s call…..he’s not too sharp.

d1carter on June 9, 2014 at 8:33 PM

We are about to see just how stupid he is, will he cop to a plea of committing treason for the Zero?

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Six morally contagious low ranking enlisted men are telling the truth which the American public has every right to know, but where are all the officers in, and up, their chain of command? All hiding under their beds or busy getting their noses even browner still?

VorDaj on June 9, 2014 at 8:37 PM

RWM: Actually, Benedict Arnold did serve the country with “honor and distinction” — at least until he was crippled by the wounds he received during the Battle of Saratoga.

FWIW . . .

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:28 PM

If you read what Col Peters wrote, I think that you’ll see that his point is that merely volunteering to wear the nation’s uniform during a time of war doesn’t necessarily mean to you have served your country with honour and distinction. Martin James Monti, Eddie D Slovik, Jerry Texiero, Charles Robert Jenkins and others all wore their country’s uniform during a time of war, but they cannot be said to have served their country with honour and distinction when their entire military careers are taken as a whole.

Resist We Much on June 9, 2014 at 8:37 PM

oscarwilde: Not at all.

OTOH, I don’t think Arnold deserves to be insulted by comparing him to Bergdahl.

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Peters nails it again

philw1776 on June 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Is Hagel really going to fall on his sword for Obama?

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Well, he wasn’t made SecDef for his intellect.

VorDaj on June 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Any moment now, Obama will soon find this out on the news.

ThePrez on June 9, 2014 at 8:40 PM

White House now blaming Hagel:

https://mobile.twitter.com/OutFrontCNN/status/476145559129300992

esr1951 on June 9, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Whoa!! Now hang on here a minute. Blame??? This whole goat rodeo was a smashing success yesterday.

You say ‘blame’…I say CREDIT!!!

Chuck ‘Hodor’ Hagel prolly thought there would be cake.

Take it like a man Chuck.

BigWyo on June 9, 2014 at 8:40 PM

oscarwilde: Not at all.

OTOH, I don’t think Arnold deserves to be insulted by comparing him to Bergdahl.

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Why? they both did the exact same thing. Once you commit treason, every good thing you might have done prior, disappears in a huge puff of smoke, like it never even existed. Benedict Arnold was a phucking worthless POS traitor.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Well, he wasn’t made SecDef for his intellect.

VorDaj on June 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Ha!

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Radio Habana Cuba could not be reached for comment.

Del Dolemonte on June 9, 2014 at 8:44 PM

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:42 PM

RedPepper did qualify his statement. Not to refight the war, but we might not have won the Revolutionary War without Arnold’s brilliant and fearless generalship. Saratoga was pivotal, and without Arnold it probably would have been lost. If that victory had disappeared in a puff of smoke with Arnold we would have been done for.

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:44 PM

We all know that Obama regards the republicans in congress far worse terrorists (believe he used that exact word and know he used HOSTAGE TAKERS) than any of the islamists. heck remember that muzzy that killed all the servicemen was just a disgruntled guy who committed some workplace violence.

jukin3 on June 9, 2014 at 8:49 PM

Well, he wasn’t made SecDef for his intellect.

VorDaj on June 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM

No he sure wasn’t. He was simply the closest stupid republican to get suckered into joining the team of an unqualified child.

Judge_Dredd on June 9, 2014 at 8:51 PM

RWM: I agree, just wearing the uniform does not equate to “honor and distinction”.

Arnold did quite a lot more than wear the uniform. His subsequent actions were a tragedy, for himself and his country.

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:51 PM

As far as the video goes, why should I believe one word that Marie Barf says?

8 weight on June 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:42 PM

RedPepper did qualify his statement. Not to refight the war, but we might not have won the Revolutionary War without Arnold’s brilliant and fearless generalship. Saratoga was pivotal, and without Arnold it probably would have been lost. If that victory had disappeared in a puff of smoke with Arnold we would have been done for.

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:44 PM

I guess then, that like RedPepper, you do not understand how serious Treason is. Such is the degree that moral ambiguity has infested our once great nation. There is a reason Treason carries the death penalty. There is a reason the General George Washington ordered his men to hang Benedict Arnold on the spot if they were to capture him. yes, all of Benedict Arnold’s prior good works went up in smoke the moment he committed treason, and that is why General Washington order that he be hung on the spot if captured.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM

*** Muslim JihadyCanary in the GitmoPrisonMine *****************

canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:44 PM

True story. A year or two ago my mom discovered one of those ancestry sites..(she’s getting up there in age)…guess who she found at one of the branches?…None other than Benedict Arnold himself.

I kinda went ‘yeah, well that figures’…never have tried to check it out myself…

BigWyo on June 9, 2014 at 8:56 PM

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM

Please. I would hope you know me better than to make such an accusation. I’m not attempting to excuse what Arnold did nor to make light of treason. I merely wanted to point out that Arnold’s actions during those first years of the war were crucial to its success.

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

oscarwilde: INC said it better than I could. Arnold was the hero of the battle of Saratoga, and without him, that battle, and possibly the War itself, could have been lost.

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

BigWyo on June 9, 2014 at 8:56 PM

:) We all have black sheep in the family tree. Hopefully enough generations removed not to be under their shadow!

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Report: Gitmo detainees may have learned of Bergdahl swap before Congress did

Wouldn’t YOU confide in your family and friends ?
So what’s the problem when Hussein does it .
Racieesssst !!!!

burrata on June 9, 2014 at 9:00 PM

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM

Nobody is all good or all bad. Arnold did some useful things and he did some bad things. Yes, he was a traitor but he was also a good military man. One thing is about talent and the other is about behavior.

crankyoldlady on June 9, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Ralph Peters and Marcus Luttrell will both be on with Megyn Kelly shortly.

Naturally Curly on June 9, 2014 at 9:08 PM

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM

Please. I would hope you know me better than to make such an accusation. I’m not attempting to excuse what Arnold did nor to make light of treason. I merely wanted to point out that Arnold’s actions during those first years of the war were crucial to its success.

INC on June 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

I do not care what his contributions were before he committed treason, and neither did George Washington or he would not have ordered him to be hung on the spot if captured. If you cannot understand that then there is nothing anyone can do to help you understand why treason is so serious.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 9:08 PM

do not care what his contributions were before he committed treason, and neither did George Washington or he would not have ordered him to be hung on the spot if captured. If you cannot understand that then there is nothing anyone can do to help you understand why treason is so serious. oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 9:08 PM

You aren’t really helping to make your case by attacking other posters. You’ve been doing it for two days now.

We get your point.

wolly4321 on June 9, 2014 at 9:16 PM

oscarwilde: INC said it better than I could. Arnold was the hero of the battle of Saratoga, and without him, that battle, and possibly the War itself, could have been lost.

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

Think this carefully through, if you are able. Benedict Arnold was a close personal friend of George Washington. A mere week before Benedict Arnold’s treason became known to Washington, Washington was providing congratulations and gifts to Arnold on the occasion of the birth of Benedict Arnold’s son.

What kind of man are you proclaiming George Washington to be, that treason is so slight an offense that General George Washington would order a close friend and confidant hung on the spot if captured. No, treason is that serious an offense, George Washington was more aware of Benedict Arnold’s role,of his contributions, than you will ever be, yet treason is so serious that Washington did not allow a years old friendship sway his hand for even once single second.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 9:21 PM

Just resign already…and take your “government” with you.

monalisa on June 9, 2014 at 9:25 PM

oscarwilde: Just for the record, my comments were not an attempt to defend treason, or minimize the seriousness of it.

What I was trying to suggest, in a snarky kind of way, was that Bergdahl is worse that Benedict Arnold.

Get it?

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 9:28 PM

What I was trying to suggest, in a snarky kind of way, was that Bergdahl is worse that Benedict Arnold.

Get it?

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 9:28 PM

I understand what you are attempting to suggest, I disagree vehemently. Bergdhal was a piker compared to Benedict Arnold. Yes, Bergdhal was a deserter and most likely a collaborator and traitor. Benedict Arnold’s actions were far far worse than those of Bowe Bergdhal. Benedict Arnold’s actions had not be surpassed until Obama gave stinger missiles, 5 Four Star Generals and millions of dollars to our enemies. Bergdhal, just a small little man who deserted his unit and may have helped the enemy on the battlefield.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 9:39 PM

oscarwilde: Bergdahl a piker compared to Arnold? Well, i guess it depends. As I recall, Arnold’s plot failed miserably. Compare that to the damage Bergdahl has done — the deaths of several comrades, the release of five sociopathic murderers, the terrible precedent of making deals with terrorists — one could argue, at least judging from the results, that Arnold was a piker!

Then again, I doubt that Bergdahl intended for all that to happen — and, as we all know, we are constantly urged to judge people by their intentions . . .

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 9, 2014

QUESTION: Going back to Gitmo detainees – I promise I’m not trying to give you whiplash or anything, but –

MS. HARF: It’s okay. It’s just another day in the briefing room. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Over the past week, and especially this weekend, both Senators Saxby Chambliss and Diane Feinstein have quoted a letter from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012, in which she promised – and I’ll quote it. She said, “I want to make it clear that any transfer from Guantanamo Bay will be undertaken after consultation with Congress and pursuant to all legal requirements for transfers, including those spelled out in Fiscal Year 2012 Defense Authorization Act,” which, of course, states that Congress must be given 30 days’ notice.

Did the Obama Administration renege on this promise?

MS. HARF: Well, first of all, I’d make a few points. We’ve been very clear about why we did not believe, for operational security reasons and the life and safety of Sergeant Bergdahl, we could give advance notice that could risk getting into the public domain. I have been very clear about that, that we were concerned about possibly someone holding Sergeant Bergdahl if they found out about this, could take action against him. As we’ve seen now over the past few days, he was held by ruthless people in very difficult conditions. So I think there was a very clear reason why we did not give notification.

I would also point out that the architecture of this deal – who the five were, where they would go, and what we would get in return – was fully briefed to Congress, and quite frankly, made very public in a number of news outlets. So the details of this was not a secret or a surprise to anyone on the Hill, to many people in the public. They knew what the architecture was, and that’s what we ended up going with.

And my final point would be that, look, we – this decision to release these five – to transfer these five to Qatar had to be signed off on by the entire national security team – the current Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the head of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, people that will not do anything that would adversely affect our national security in any way.

Anything else?

QUESTION: That’s it.

MS. HARF: Great. Thanks, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:44 p.m.)

DPB # 101

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/06/227322.htm

canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 10:05 PM

canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 9, 2014
=============

Yes, Lucas.

QUESTION: Gitmo?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have any new countries come forward and offered to take Gitmo detainees since the Qatar transfer?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve been working with a range of countries, of third countries, to transfer detainees there, many of which we don’t talk about publicly because these are obviously very sensitive diplomatic discussions. I’m happy to see if there are any new that have emerged in the last few days, but suffice to say, we are working with a very large number of countries who could potentially take some of these remaining detainees.

QUESTION: And can you put to rest the allegation that a cash ransom was paid for these Guantanamo Bay detainees?

MS. HARF: Was paid for them?

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. HARF: To us?

QUESTION: We paid Qatar, Qatar paid us, Qatar paid the Haqqani Network – because Catherine Herridge is reporting that the Haqqani Network never does a deal unless cash is involved.

MS. HARF: I have not heard anything about cash. I am happy to check.

QUESTION: Okay. And –

MS. HARF: I have not, though.

QUESTION: — finally –

QUESTION: Yes, regarding –

QUESTION: (Off-mike) check?

QUESTION: But this –

MS. HARF: Yeah. I didn’t write a check.

QUESTION: This pushback on Capitol Hill among Democrats, Republicans about the swap of Taliban detainees, has that blown up any remaining goodwill for future detainee transfers in the future?

MS. HARF: Well, I think we’ve been very clear about the fact that we don’t want the political controversy that’s come out of this swap to in any way impact our efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, because it’s the right thing to do – including people like former President George W. Bush have said it’s the right thing to do. So we continue working with other countries to find places where we can transfer detainees – the group of them that have been cleared for transfer. We are working on how we can prosecute those that have been identified for prosecution.

And I think an important point to remember on the transfer issue is we put in place in this Administration much more stringent rules than the previous administration for the standards we had to meet for sufficiently mitigating the risk to American national security. And the recidivism rates – there’s been some confusion out there. Under this Administration, under our rules, those confirmed of re-engaging is 6 percent. Under the previous, it was 18.6. So those numbers sometimes get conflated, but it’s important to remember that under the rules we’re operating under – the ones we released those five under to Qatar – we have put in place very stringent rules, and as Secretary Kerry said over the weekend – I’m sure many of you saw – we have ways to find them if they try to re-engage, and we have ways to bring them to justice if they do.

QUESTION: Given the current bipartisan attacks about transferring the detainees, does it make it harder to transfer more in the future?

MS. HARF: Look, we’re focused on closing Guantanamo Bay, doing it in a responsible manner, prosecuting those we can, transferring those we deem that we can as well. That’s what we’re focused on, because this is what we do. This is what we’ve said. We don’t hold people longer than we have to. We have always said that Guantanamo Bay hurts our national security. It is a propaganda tool for terrorists, and the quicker we can get it closed responsibly, we are going to continue working towards that goal. And I think a lot of members of Congress, even if they didn’t like this particular deal, would absolutely agree with that goal.

QUESTION: And –

QUESTION: How worried is this building about efforts in Congress to try to change the rules again regarding detainee transfers?

MS. HARF: I think that Congress has tried for a long time to change the rules when it comes to Guantanamo Bay, and to put it in place I would call very strict restrictions on this Administration because of our goal of closing it. So we will continue working with Congress; we think it’s important to do so. But I want to be crystal clear that the President and the Secretary and everybody in this Administration is committed to closing it. Again, not just because it’s the right thing to do – although, to be fair, it is – but because it hurts our national security every day that that prison is open.

And we have – that’s why we have said very clearly we will close it, but we’re going to do it responsibly. We’re going to put in place new standards. They’re stricter. They’re tougher. They prevent recidivism more than the previous administration did. We’re going to transfer people when we can and we’re going to prosecute them when we can. And we’re going to get it closed. And we’re going to figure out, as the President said at West Point, what this architecture of our counterterrorism operations looks like going forward. It’s not going to look like Guantanamo Bay, though, and it shouldn’t.

QUESTION: Secretary Hagel is going up to the Hill on Wednesday. Has there been any invitation extended to Secretary Kerry to talk about this building’s efforts to deal with detainee transfers?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. As you may or may not know, there’s an interagency team briefing all members of – open to all members of the House in a classified session this evening at 5:30, mirroring the one we did with the Senate last week, and a representative from here will be there. I believe it’s Ambassador Dobbins.

QUESTION: Over the weekend, Secretary Kerry said, quote, “Our combat role in Afghanistan is over.”

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: If that’s the case, how can you reconcile that there’s 32,000 combat forces there today, 24 soldiers – American soldiers being killed in 2014, including two this month? Is Secretary Kerry getting ahead of himself?

MS. HARF: Not at all. I think the President was very clear when he came into office that we were going to put – we were going to lay down timetables for how we were going to end the war in Afghanistan. First step, as he did: undertake a review. Send more troops there. Surge troops there to try to do some of the things we should have been doing, quite frankly, when we were bogged down in Iraq. Then, after that, he laid down a plan for how we’re going to bring those troops home. And there are certain milestones on that. When our official combat role ends, when we transferred security to the Afghan – the lead for security to Afghan forces. And now we have in place a plan to bring home troops over a staggered timeframe. And I think what drove the President’s decision to choose this number over this timeframe was so we could keep troops there to train the Afghan security forces, to continue counterterrorism operations, to give them more time to step up and lead, as we saw them do on the election. And we will continue standing by them as we do.

But it’s important to remember that as we draw down our forces, it will increasingly force the Afghan forces to step up. And that’s part of what drives much of our decision making as well.

QUESTION: If we’re still taking casualties in Afghanistan because of direct action, not by accident –

MS. HARF: Doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly dangerous.

QUESTION: But then our combat role in Afghanistan is not over.

MS. HARF: It’s a different role, right? Our role has evolved throughout the decade-plus we’ve been there, and right now we’re very much focused on training and counterterrorism. It doesn’t mean that people won’t – there won’t be casualties, unfortunately. But I think the fact that there are still casualties underscores why it’s imperative to do our job, finish what we need to do there, and then bring our kids home.

QUESTION: A few years ago, when we were engaged in combat in Afghanistan and the Taliban and other insurgent groups were attacking our soldiers, shooting our soldiers, and they were shooting back, and that’s clearly the case today. How has that changed? How is combat over?

MS. HARF: It’s a little different, Lucas. As we’ve always said, our role there is going to evolve. What we call it, what point in the operations we are, doesn’t, quite frankly, matter as much as the fact that we know that our men and women in uniform are still in harm’s way. We know they’re still in incredible danger. But we have set in place a timetable for winding down our role in this war because we believe that’s the best way to get the Afghans to stand up, to take even more control of their security – that’s why we’re training them; that’s what we’re training them to do – and that we will, at some point eventually, end the longest war in American history. This is up to the Afghans to pick their future.

QUESTION: What’s the U.S.’s plans for monitoring the runoff on Saturday?

MS. HARF: In terms of whether we’ll have monitors?

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: Let me check. I’m not sure. It’s a good question, though.

QUESTION: And over the weekend, Secretary Kerry went to his grandfather’s home in the northern coast.

MS. HARF: Yes, he did, in France.

QUESTION: Did he take personal time off for that or is that official state business?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: I know the whole team did not go, but I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Very simple question. I mean, you talk about Taliban, and five of them were now exchange process. How many left in Guantanamo of Taliban people?

MS. HARF: How many detainees overall or how many –

QUESTION: No, no, how many Taliban detainees?

MS. HARF: I’m happy – I don’t know what the breakdown is. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: And the other question is regarding when this – you were talking about Pakistan, you mentioned Pakistani Taliban. How you differentiate between them?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously a lot of these groups are different groups, but work together very closely. So we have the Haqqani network. We have the TTP. We have the Afghan Taliban. Obviously, one – the Afghan Taliban –

QUESTION: (Off-mike) geographically, not ideologically?

MS. HARF: Geographically – well, not ideologically necessarily.

QUESTION: Like Hezbollah.

MS. HARF: Sort of like Hezbollah I guess. But geographically in some respects, also in terms of leadership structures; they both have their own leadership structures. Obviously they are very coordinated on many things, but on some things they’re not.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Over the weekend, Secretary Kerry said it was, quote, “a lot of baloney” that Guantanamo detainees could return to the battlefield and kill Americans. Is that official State Department policy?

MS. HARF: I think it’s reflecting what I just said, that when we’re talking about the possibility of re-engagement or recidivism, it really is important that we know the facts here about what has happened and what hasn’t, and what we’ve put in place to prevent it from happening. And in a year these guys will have lived under the obligations of the Government of Qatar has assured us they will live under.

Look, is there a chance they will return to the battlefield? As Secretary Kerry said, of course. But we believe we substantially mitigated the risk enough. And look, these five – let’s say the worse-case scenario, these five guys do return. In no way would that substantially change the Taliban’s order of battle on the ground. That’s just not even logical. And as he said as well, we have many ways to keep tabs on these guys. It’s not like we just release them and close our eyes. We have many, many ways to. Of some of those folks in the previous administration that did re-engage, many of them were captured or killed.

QUESTION: It’s baloney to think that we could not catch or kill them?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. You know the talent the United States military has and how committed they are to protecting us from anyone who wants to do us harm. And I think nobody, including the Taliban, should have any hesitation to know that the United States military finds people who want to hurt the United States and take them off the battlefield.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry was not referring to saying it’s baloney that these guys could go back and add a propaganda value to the Taliban or –

MS. HARF: I think I was very clear about what the Secretary was saying.

Yes, Scott.

QUESTION: Nigeria?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does the United States believe that there are members of the Nigerian military who are complicit in the Boko Haram campaign of terror?

MS. HARF: Well, I know there have been some media reports over the weekend about military officials being, I think, found guilty in a court martial. We’re aware of these reports. I’m not in a position to confirm them at this point. We’re still seeking more information, but again cannot confirm them at this point.

And overall, we maintain a level of military cooperation with the Nigerians in keeping with relevant human rights legislation and human rights concerns. So we’ve been very open at times about our concern about Nigeria’s human rights record. Obviously this is a key topic of conversation, especially when we’re talking about counterterrorism. But I don’t have any more details to corroborate any of those reports we’ve seen.

QUESTION: Okay. Regardless of these individual cases then, does the suggestion that there is complicity at different levels of the chain of command within the Nigerian military complicate that campaign against Boko Haram and/or U.S. support for – especially for the hunt for these girls?

MS. HARF: Well, not – I mean, for the hunt for these girls we’ve said we will do whatever it takes to help find them. But obviously, all of our counterterrorism cooperation needs to be put into a larger context. And where we’re concerned about human rights issues in the Nigerian Government or military, we take those very seriously. We’ve talked a lot about some of our congressional responsibilities when it comes to that issue.

So does it complicate it? Sure. When it comes to looking for these girls, we have said we will do whatever it takes.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say, though, that you are following these reports of potential court martial –

MS. HARF: We are, we are.

QUESTION: — that would factor into your –

MS. HARF: Absolutely. We just have nothing to confirm them yet, and we’re seeking more information.

QUESTION: Has there been any augmentation of the interagency staff that’s in Abuja to assist the Nigerians?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check and see, but not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Marie, any updates on the status of the search for these girls?

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: It’s been nearly two months now.

MS. HARF: It has. No updates. As we’ve said in here, there are indications they may have been broken up into small groups, may have been taken to other countries. The search continues. The Nigerians are still in the lead. And tragically, no update yet.

QUESTION: How confident are you that you might be able to track them down?

MS. HARF: We’re certainly hopeful that we will, and we’re committed to putting resources to doing that.

QUESTION: And how long – have you any timeline on how long the U.S. involvement will remain in place?

MS. HARF: I don’t. But I think suffice to say we’re going to be there until we find these girls. I don’t have any more timeline for you.

Yes.

QUESTION: And the aerial surveillance continues?

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding everything continues as we’ve talked about.

Yes.

QUESTION: Just going back to Pakistan. Following the Taliban attack over the weekend, how concerned are you about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nukes, and has that come up in discussions with the Pakistani government over the past 24 hours?

MS. HARF: I don’t know if there have been discussions here with the Pakistani Government. I know there have been on the ground. I don’t know if it’s come up. I would guess it hasn’t. As we’ve said, we believe the Pakistani Government understands the importance of protecting all of its arsenal, including things related to its nuclear program. We know that they care about this a great deal and have no reason at this point to think it’s anything but safe.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I go to Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: So President Poroshenko was sworn in over the weekend and he has laid out various statements about how he sees things going forward. There’s two sets of talks happening with the Russians today, one in Brussels on the gas, and they were trying to have some talks as well about the uprising in the east. And President Poroshenko has said that we must end the fighting by this week. How realistic do you believe that comment is?

MS. HARF: Well, we know the fighting needs to end soon. And we were encouraged that President Putin spoke with President Poroshenko in Normandy on Friday, that Russia returned its ambassador to Ukraine for its inauguration, and we would welcome President Putin’s comments that he will take action to secure the border between Russia and Ukraine more effectively to prevent the flow of armed fighters and weapons. And I think now we’re calling on Russia to follow up its words with actions.

So I think there’s a path forward here, we’ve always said there was, for de-escalation. We have congratulated President Poroshenko on his inauguration and welcome the commitments he’s made to increasingly work to secure his country, which has been under such brutal attack for way too long now.

QUESTION: Is it possible, though, to stop these brutal attacks in the east this week?

MS. HARF: President Putin called on the separatists, many of whom are being supported by the Russians, to do so. I think we could see significant progress.

QUESTION: You do think there – significant progress this week?

MS. HARF: I think we could.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Let’s put our actions where our words are.

QUESTION: If the plan was to isolate President Putin, what was he doing at the G7 conference to begin with?

MS. HARF: Well, he was in Normandy for the 70th anniversary celebration of D-Day. You know the long history, particularly during World War II, we had working with Russia, and we believe this is a historical event that didn’t need to have politics in it. We’ve also been very clear that the G7 is the G7 and not the G8 right now.

QUESTION: And just quick follow-up on the Gitmo five –

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — are – when you say there’s ways of tracking them, does that include any kind of embedded chips or tracking devices, GPS, anything like that?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to comment any way we have of keeping tabs on these guys. That would probably defeat the purpose.

QUESTION: Right. But you’re not denying that there are ways to monitor their whereabouts?

MS. HARF: Look, our intelligence community is the best in the world, and if we want to find people who want to do us harm, I guarantee you we’ll do it.

QUESTION: James Bond, James Bond.

QUESTION: Do they all have a drone following them? Everybody gets a drone? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: What else?

QUESTION: It might be cheaper than detaining them.

MS. HARF: Well, I mean, no – in all seriousness, it costs so much money for these detainees – taxpayer money, all of your money – for these detainees to remain in Gitmo. I think it’s something like over $2 million for these guys compared to in the most super-max prison in the U.S. something in the hundreds of thousands. So I think that in addition to all the other moral reasons and legal reasons and other reasons to close Guantanamo Bay, from a purely practical taxpayer standpoint, absolutely.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/06/227322.htm

canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Ms. Harf is a piece of work, no?

Couple of days ago I had never even heard of her.
Just a string of barky bimbos.

What was that ones name that headed up OFA? (organizing for azzhole)

The good news is they all flame out quickly.

Oh yea,, I remember now. Stephanie Cutter.

wolly4321 on June 9, 2014 at 10:20 PM

oscarwilde: Bergdahl a piker compared to Arnold? Well, i guess it depends. As I recall, Arnold’s plot failed miserably. Compare that to the damage Bergdahl has done — the deaths of several comrades, the release of five sociopathic murderers, the terrible precedent of making deals with terrorists — one could argue, at least judging from the results, that Arnold was a piker!

Then again, I doubt that Bergdahl intended for all that to happen — and, as we all know, we are constantly urged to judge people by their intentions . . .

RedPepper on June 9, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Benedict Arnold plot failed, yes, but Arnold had an enormous amount of important military information. Information he turned over to the British. Information that the British were able to use. Make no mistake about it, Benedict Arnold’s treason was a massive blow to the Continental Army. In todays terms, it would be like discovering that Eisenhower had defected to the Germans. Where as Bergdhal, is probably only slightly more egregious than Eddie Slovik.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Of course they did. Only one of these two groups has any accountability leverage over Obama. That’s the group, naturally, that had to be kept in the dark.

Summed up in three short sentences.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 10, 2014 at 1:00 AM