But current U.S. intelligence and defense officials who spoke to The Daily Beast on Monday say the process for exchanging Taliban for Bergdahl this time was rushed and closely held, in some instances leaving little room for any push back against a policy clearly favored by the White House.
“This was an example of forcing the consensus,” one U.S. military official said. “The White House knew the answer they wanted and they ended up getting it.”
The White House did not even consult or inform Congress until after the prisoner release had begun. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence told The Daily Beast, “Should we have gotten advance warning? I actually think so.” She added, “We had participated in a number of briefings some time ago [on a possible future deal] and there was considerable concern.”
At the end of the day, both Hagel and Clapper supported Obama’s decision. Hagel was willing to make the certification that the risk to U.S. interests posed by releasing the “Gitmo Five” was mitigated in part by the assurances of the Qatari government.