Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday the Taliban detainees released in a prison swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could indeed return to terrorism but largely dismissed the argument that the deal will put U.S. troops further at risk.
Kerry told CNN’s “State of the Union” the argument that troops in Afghanistan would be more at risk was “baloney” now that the Taliban commanders have been released, particularly because the United States is winding down its military presence in that country.
“Our combat role in Afghanistan is over,” Kerry said. "We’re going to have very few people in that kind of position.”
He argued the detainees, released June 3 to the Qatar government, could return to battle -- but with a big risk for deadly consequences.
“I just think that’s a lot of baloney because, to whatever degree it may be true, they will wind up putting themselves at the mercy of those people who are very effective (at) who are there, who will deal with those guys,” Kerry said.
“I am not telling you that they don’t have some ability at some point to go back and get involved, but they also have an ability to get killed if they do that,” he continued.
The detainees were released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after Bergdahl was set free by his Taliban captors in eastern Afghanistan.
Cheryl Brandes, the mother of Army Pfc. Matthew Martinek, purportedly killed while searching for platoon mate Bergdahl, suggested on “Fox News Sunday” that the detainee release, combined with troops leaving Afghanistan, is a “massacre waiting to happen” for the U.S. military personnel who will remain in the region.
Kerry strongly defended the decision to recover Bergdahl, amid strong evidence he deserted his post.
"What I know today is what the president of the United States knows, that it would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what, to leave an American behind in the hands of people who would torture him, cut off his head, do any number of things," he said.