Former Bush Official: Bergdahl Swap ‘Was A Really Dangerous Moment’

WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A former Bush official believes the U.S. set a dangerous precedent swapping five Taliban operatives for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a new report reveals that one of the former Guantanamo Bay detainees has attempted to return to militant activity.

Juan Zarate, former deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush and current CBS News national security analyst, said that the swap showed terrorist organizations that they could begin to negotiate with the U.S. to get high-level prisoners back.

“One of the risks of that exchange was that not only were we releasing high-level Taliban operatives who would likely re-engage and reconnect with terrorist groups and potentially even return to Afghanistan after a year of moratorium in Qatar, we were setting a precedent that terrorist groups – like the Taliban and ISIS – would see that you could begin to negotiate with the U.S. and other countries for strategic value, to get high-level prisoners back,” Zarate told “CBS This Morning” Friday.

The five Taliban militants were taken to Qatar following their release for Bergdahl last May. A U.S. official told CNN that one of them “reached out” to try to encourage militant activity. CNN reports that all five Taliban are having there communications more closely monitored. One official said that there is no current threat.

Zarate said that the Bergdahl swap is having an effect on what is happening between Jordan and ISIS right now as the Middle Eastern country is trying to negotiate the release of one of its pilots being held hostage by the terror group.

“I think it really was a dangerous moment and I think you’re seeing some of the effects of that in the current situation with Jordan,” Zarate said on “CBS This Morning.”

Jordan said Wednesday it was willing to trade al Qaeda prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi for military pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

Al-Rishawi, 44, faces death by hanging for her role in a suicide bombing, one of three simultaneous attacks on Amman hotels in November 2005 that killed 60 people. She survived because her belt of explosives didn’t detonate. She initially confessed, but later recanted, saying she was an unwilling participant.

Al-Kaseasbeh was captured in December after his Jordanian F-16 crashed near the Islamic State group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. He is the first foreign military pilot to be captured since the U.S. and its allies began airstrikes against the Islamic State more than four months ago.

ISIS is also holding Japanese journalist Kenji Goto hostage and have threatened to kill him and the Jordanian pilot if al-Rishawi wasn’t released. The hostages’ fates are currently unknown after the latest ISIS deadline passed.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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