U.S. News


White House Claims Taliban Threatened To Kill Bergdahl

The White House told senators that Congress was not notified of the Bergdahl deal because the Taliban threatened to kill him if it was made public.
Posted at 7:33 PM, Jun 05, 2014

New details are emerging about the controversial Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap with the Taliban and why the White House felt rushed to finalize a deal.

The Obama administration reportedly told senators at a closed briefing Wednesday night that Congress was not informed of the exchange because of a Taliban threat to kill Bergdahl if the deal was made public. (Via The Telegraph)

But the briefing wasn't the first time administration officials had dropped hints that Sgt. Bergdahl's life was in danger. (Via U.S. Army)

At a similar hearing Sunday, Department of Defense officials told senators Secretary Chuck Hagel said, "There was a question about his safety." (Via NBC) 


And The New York Times reports, "Officials from Qatar, who had long been the middlemen in the deliberations ... were issuing warnings that the American prisoner's days could be numbered."

This comes after a congressional and intelligence community assessment earlier this year that said Bergdahl's health, while deteriorating, was not so severe as to warrant an emergency rescue. (Via HLN)

The deal, which saw Bergdahl released in exchange for five senior Taliban members held at Guantanamo Bay, has gotten a lot of backlash in Washington.  

Conservative critics have questioned whether the price for Bergdahl was too high, and members of both parties lashed out at the president for failing to notify Congress ahead of time, which is required by law. (Via CBS)

President Obama fielded a question about Bergdahl during a press conference in Brussels Thursday, calling the "whipped up" controversy politics as usual in Washington.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: "I make absolutely no apologies for making sure we get a young man back to his parents, and that the American people understand that this is somebody's child." (Via CNN)

But there are also fears about the precedent this sets for how the U.S. engages with terrorist groups.

Time interviewed a Taliban commander to gain some insight into the group's perspective. When asked whether the deal would inspire them to carry out more kidnappings, the commander laughed and said, "Definitely."

"This is a historic moment for us. Today our enemy for the first time officially recognized our status. ... It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird."

Senators at Wednesday's briefing said they were not convinced the administration was right to circumvent Congress in making the deal.