DOD 'Confident' It Can 'Mitigate Any Threat of Re-Engagement' by Gitmo 5

By Susan Jones | January 30, 2015 | 8:06am EST

In this Saturday, May 31, 2014 image made from video obtained from the Voice Of Jihad website, U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, stands with a Taliban member in eastern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad)" link="/image/captured-soldier-bergdahls-journey-0" nid="801924" preset="medium" teaser="1

(CNSNews.com) - The Pentagon is "confident" that it can "mitigate any threat of re-engagement" by five Taliban members swapped last year for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years after he walked away from his unit in Afghanistan. Fellow troops accused Bergdahl of desertion.

CNN reported that one of the five former Gitmo detainees transferred to Qatar as part of the Bergdahl trade is communicating, either by phone or online, with the Taliban in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

The "attempt to return to militancy" raised alarms in the U.S. intelligence community, CNN's Barbara Starr reported on Thursday. Starr also reported that intelligence agencies are monitoring the five detainees very closely and were able to intercept the communications.

"What I can tell you is that we take issues of re-engagement very, very seriously," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told CNN Thursday night. "And re-engagement can mean a lot of things. It doesn't necessarily mean...a return to the battlefield."

Kirby said the Pentagon is working closely with law enforcement, intelligence agencies and international partners "to deal with it as effectively as possible."

"What I can tell you here is that we have a strong security partnership with Qatar and are in constant dialogue with Qatari government officials about these five detainees. And we're confident that we would be able to mitigate any threat of re-engagement by any of these members."

Kirby said the Obama administration's trust in the Qatari government "was not misplaced."

Later, Kirby told Fox News's Sean Hannity that the Pentagon takes "all allegations of re-engagement very, very seriously.... And I can tell you that we are comfortable at the Defense Department that we can mitigate any threat that could be posed by any one of these individuals in terms of terrorist activity. Again, I can't talk about the details. I can tell you we're very comfortable, though, that we can mitigate that threat."



Kirby also said the Obama administration stands by its decision to trade Bergdahl for the five Taliban members. "It's a powerful message to our troops and our families that we're going to -- we're not going to leave you behind. And it doesn't matter how you came to be missing. We'll deal with that later...We're going to make sure we can get you home."

Kirby insists that Bergdahl has not been charged with desertion or anything else, but he said the investigation is ongoing.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, told Fox News Thursday night it's not surprising to hear that former Gitmo detainees may be trying to return to the fight: "This is what we've been concerned about and angry about from the start."

King said President Obama released five of the "worst of the worst," relying on Qatar to "keep an eye on them."

"There's no reason why we should trust Qatar," King said.

King said America's enemies were locked up at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because they are a threat to the United States. "Lives are at risk, and there's no policy reason for it. There's no possible justification whatever for this other than the president's ideological passion to close Guantanamo."

Twice in the past two days, two different White House spokesmen have refused to call the Taliban a "terrorist" group.

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