- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Obama administration tried to persuade the members of the “Taliban Five” to gather intelligence for the U.S. upon their release. 

But the effort to “flip” the five Taliban leaders, who were released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was a bust. A source familiar with the plan described it as a “total failure,” Fox News reported Saturday.

The plan was part of President Obama’s efforts to prevent the prisoners from returning to terrorism. 

The former detainees had been living in Qatar under a travel ban, which was set to expire this week but was temporarily extended amid ongoing talks between the U.S. and Qatar, Fox reported

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered little information on the “flip” effort at Friday’s press briefing. 

“Even as a general matter, this is an intelligence matter that I won’t be able to discuss from here,” Mr. Earnest said in response to a question about the strategy. 

The five men were held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp for 12 years. Military officials concluded they were a likely security threat and had “high intelligence value,” which made them obvious recruitment targets. 

“We would definitely have tried to work that with these people because of who they are, and because of the relationships they have,” Fox News military analyst and retired Gen. Jack Keane said. “These are people that had significant senior positions inside this organization.”

The five men returned to Qatar nearly a year ago where they are now joined by some 65 immediate family members and other relatives. 

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, the leading Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who receives regular briefings said he is concerned over the amount of influence and connections the Taliban Five have in Qatar. 

“Without going into the details of the numbers, they have had access to outsiders who in turn have had access to the outside. And this can’t bode well for American national security,” Mr. Pompeo said, Fox reported. “I wish I could tell you that I thought the administration understood the threat [from] these five, frankly, as well as the threat from Al Qaeda and ISIS, but I think in the case of these five in particular the administration continues to underestimate what it means for them to come back.”

The administration’s decision to trade the five Taliban leaders for Mr. Bergdahl without notifying congress is the subject of an ongoing national security debate. 

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said that administration is keeping a close eye on the Taliban Five but could not detail the measures the U.S. and it’s partners take to keep tabs on the former detainees. 

“It is fair to say that we remain both vigilant and in close contact on these matters. We have relied on extensive monitoring measures and travel restrictions to prevent them from threatening our interests,” Mr. Price told Fox. 

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