The State Department says Qatar has agreed to extend, at least for a time, the travel ban on five terrorists President Obama released from the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison in exchange for Sgt. Bow Bergdahl, who now is facing possible punishment from looming desertion charges, Fox News reported.
A State Department official said the travel limits would be kept in place until “diplomatic talks for a longer-term solution are completed.”
The 2014 deal in which Obama released the five sent them to Qatar, and government officials there agreed to monitor them and prevent them from leaving the country for one year, a time period that expired on Monday.
A government official with knowledge of the deal told Fox News just months ago that at least three already have tried to re-contact their terror networks.
Returned to the United States was Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban for several years after he fled his Army post in Afghanistan. Obama held a Rose Garden press conference with Bergdahl’s parents to announce the deal, but Bergdahl since then has been accused of desertion.
Fox reported that U.S. officials said the Obama administration now was trying to obtain an agreement with Qatar that the travel ban would be extended for another six months.
The official said Qatar now “has agreed to maintain the current restrictive conditions on these individuals as we continue these discussions,” Fox reported.
Members of Congress were critical of Obama for releasing the five, and had been lobbying for an extension to the monitoring. They also accused the White House of not following protocol and the law by not giving Congress a 30-day notice of the deal.
“This release was a complete overreach by the White House, ignoring U.S. law,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox. “Already over the past year, it’s been reported that the flimsy ‘security assurances’ in Qatar have been violated, jeopardizing our security. In a few days, these assurances disappear and Taliban leaders will be free to return to the battlefield, putting U.S. security interests and Americans at risk.”
It was reported earlier that fellow soldiers were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements years ago about the circumstances of Bergdahl’s departure from his assigned military post.
That’s even as the State Department continued to defend the exchange orchestrated by Obama.
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Fox’s Megyn Kelly: “Was it worth it? Absolutely. We have a commitment to our men and women serving overseas, or in our military, defending our national security every day, that we will do everything we can to bring them home, and that’s what we did in this case.”