State Dept: "Not Logical" To Believe Released Taliban Prisoners Will Have Impact on Battlefield

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QUESTION: Over the weekend, Secretary Kerry said it was, quote, “a lot of baloney” that Guantanamo detainees could return to the battlefield and kill Americans. Is that official State Department policy?

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think it’s reflecting what I just said, that when we’re talking about the possibility of re-engagement or recidivism, it really is important that we know the facts here about what has happened and what hasn’t, and what we’ve put in place to prevent it from happening. And in a year these guys will have lived under the obligations of the Government of Qatar has assured us they will live under.

Look, is there a chance they will return to the battlefield? As Secretary Kerry said, of course. But we believe we substantially mitigated the risk enough. And look, these five – let’s say the worse-case scenario, these five guys do return. In no way would that substantially change the Taliban’s order of battle on the ground. That’s just not even logical. And as he said as well, we have many ways to keep tabs on these guys. It’s not like we just release them and close our eyes. We have many, many ways to. Of some of those folks in the previous administration that did re-engage, many of them were captured or killed.

QUESTION: It’s baloney to think that we could not catch or kill them?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. You know the talent the United States military has and how committed they are to protecting us from anyone who wants to do us harm. And I think nobody, including the Taliban, should have any hesitation to know that the United States military finds people who want to hurt the United States and take them off the battlefield.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry was not referring to saying it’s baloney that these guys could go back and add a propaganda value to the Taliban or --

MS. HARF: I think I was very clear about what the Secretary was saying.

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