In a radio interview broadcast Sunday, Col. Michael Bumgarner, formerly the commander of the guard force at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, declared he is “beyond disgusted” at President Obama’s decision to release the so-called Taliban Five.
The five high-risk former members of the Taliban government were released from Gitmo last June in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
“To me, I cannot think of a strong enough word to (describe) how it disgusts me that we are releasing these people,” stated Bumgarner. “And I think these five, if anybody thinks they are not going to return to the fight in Afghanistan, they are absolutely clueless in that regard.”
Bumgerner was speaking on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and Philadelphia’s NewsTalk 990 AM.
He served from April 2005 through June 2006 as commander of the Joint Detention Group, the guard force component of the Joint Task Force at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo.
Bumgarner said that to his knowledge the reports are accurate that all five were deemed “high risk” by a U.S. security assessment and that they were among a group of about 80 the U.S. intelligence community believed should never be released.
Obama has made no secret about his desire to one day close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Asked whether Gitmo’s continued existence promotes U.S. national security interests, Bumgarner told Klein the prison is “the best of the worst choices.”
“I think it comes down to, like many Americans say, no one wants these terrorists brought to their backyard to be put even in the super maximum,” he said.
“Many people say put them in the super max in Colorado. One, I don’t want them brought to the United States just on the sheer grounds of security alone. There is nobody who will ever escape from Guantanamo.
“Also, Gitmo, the facilities there are first class, the detainees are being treated in a first class manner today. I don’t know why we would want to change that methodology that we are currently deploying. It has proven well for the United States.”
The Taliban Five were released to the government of Doha, Qatar, on June 1, 2014.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has described the former detainees as “the hardest of the hard core.”