Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta openly questioned the Obama Administration's decision to release five, high-level Taliban terrorists who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Panetta was speaking at a gas industry conference in Pittsburgh, PA and spoke out about the recent release that resulted in the release of POW Bowe Bergdahl.
“I don't fault the administration for wanting to get him back. I do question whether the conditions are in place to make sure these terrorists don't go back into battle,” Panetta said. He said he opposed a swap for the terrorists at Gitmo when he was Defense secretary.
TribLive reports on Wednesday's comments made by the former Obama Administration official:
“I said, ‘Wait, I have an obligation under the law,'” Panetta said during a lunchtime address at the Hart Energy Developing Unconventionals DUG East conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. “If I send prisoners from Guantanamo, they have to guarantee they don't go back to the battlefield. I had serious concerns.”
He said talks fell apart because the Taliban “asked for five top guys.” He did not say when during his 2011-13 tenure in the Pentagon that discussions took place.
“I just assumed it was never going to happen,” Panetta said.
The statement confirms an account relayed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as he contended that the Obama Administration violated the law by neglecting to inform Congress of the deal to release the Gitmo detainees because they knew Congress would say "no." "Every time the President asked, we said hell no. Panetta said no, Gates said no, Dianne Feinstein said no, Lindsey Graham said no," Graham said.