zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The year-long travel ban against the five Taliban detainees freed in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Berghdal is set to expire on Monday, prompting critics of the controversial prisoner swap to voice security concerns and ask if the Obama administration is seeking to extend that travel moratorium.
The White House and the State Department have both said this week that there is nothing new to announce about travel restrictions on the former Taliban leaders, who had been at Guantanamo Bay for nearly 12 years before being transferred to the Qataris in May 2014.
Bergdahl, who was the U.S. military’s only prisoner of war in Afghanistan, was charged with desertion nearly a year after President Obama announced his release. Bergdahl was heavily criticized by his former comrades for endangering the lives of those who searched for him and they blamed him for the administration’s decision to the release of five high-value Taliban prisoners.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, released a statement Thursday expressing his desire for the administration to extend the travel ban.
“Unless something changes, those terrorists will be free to return to the fight on Sunday,” Thornberry said. “News reports suggest their activities since they left Gitmo are already a cause for concern.”
Three of the former detainees attempted to make contact with active members of the Taliban while under supervision of the Qataris, U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News earlier this year.
Thornberry called those reports “cause for concern” and said the release of these former detainees (many of whom are considered too old to actually pick up arms) “will endanger our troops abroad and our families at home.”
The House Intelligence Committee also sent a letter last week to President Obama requesting the administration work with the Qataris to extend that travel ban.
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