Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) appeared on Fox News this week to take the White House to task over its weak stance regarding evidence that one of the five former Gitmo detainees released in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been in contact with Taliban operatives.

But Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., in an interview with Fox News, raised concerns that the five freed fighters might indeed be planning to return to the battlefield in the coming months, particularly after strict monitoring in Qatar is over.

“What happens then?” Ayotte asked. “Never mind that they’re already attempting to re-engage and obviously making communications to do so.”

She said: “I think this was a bad deal.”

The senator pushed anew for legislation she has crafted that would suspend transfers of detainees assessed to be high- or medium-risk.


Ayotte’s criticism stems from a press conference earlier this week in which White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to explain why the White House does not consider the Taliban to be a terrorist organization.

Via ABC News:

“They do carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism. They do pursue terror attacks in an effort to try to advance their agenda,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained today, but “they have a different classification.”

Semantics aside, the Taliban is suspected in multiple attacks over just the last 48 hours that have killed more than 30 people, including a suicide bombing attack on a funeral in Afghanistan today that killed 16 and wounded 39.

Even so, the White House does not call the Afghan Taliban a terrorist organization, Earnest explained, because they are “different than an organization like al Qaeda that has a much broader global aspiration to carry out acts of violence and acts of terror against Americans and American interests all around the globe.”

I’m so glad that the White House has committed to focusing on semantics when we have 5 enemy operatives on the loose.

Senator Ayotte is right—the White House is missing the point. Earnest assures us that monitoring efforts concerning the 5 operatives have been tweaked, but I don’t think anyone in Congress—or on the ground in the Middle East—puts much stock in the judgment of an Administration that turned them loose in the first place.