One of the many lines of attack being used to discredit the prisoner swap that set Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl free is the notion that the so-called "Taliban Five" might return to the battlefield and/or destroy America with mind bullets. The Obama administration has offered a variety of reassurances, both to Congress and the media, but there has been a pretty clear subtext to many of those reassurances: If these guys step out of line, they are going to get caught. Some of that subtext has been delivered by people, like Secretary of State John Kerry and former NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, who would know if there were some extra reason for this particular confidence. Kerry all but said, "E-way are oing-gay to one-dray em-thay," and Vietor gave similar assurances in an interview with Rachel Maddow last week.
As is always the case, every statement about foreign policy is attenuated to multiple audiences, so it's possible that all of this talk is simply meant to make these guys crap their pants a little, but Vietor's not in the administration anymore. More so than Kerry, his assessment of our capability to "mitigate" these guys sets off the Spidey-senses. In addition to the monitoring of the Qatari government, is it possible that there's some other measure in place that's giving these reassurances their murderous edge, some kind of sub-cutaneous terrorist Lojack, accompanied by a drone with a helpful CIA Onstar representative?
At Tuesday's White House briefing, we asked freshly-minted White House Press Secretary-Designate Josh Earnest, point blank, if there were drones in place with the Taliban Five's names (which actually do not translate to Michael, Jermaine, or Tito) on them, or any other specific contingency.
"Well, that's probably another precise operational detail that I wouldn't get into," Earnest replied, and read several more such reassurances, including President Obama's remark, at a press conference in Poland, "Iwouldn’tbedoingit if I thought that it was contrary to American national security. And we have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if, in fact, they are engaging in activities that threaten our defenses."
Obviously, if there were some sort of specific contingency in place, Earnest wouldn't be able to tell me what it was, but he didn't deny it. If Petsmart can microchip your labradoodle, surely the CIA can tag a Taliban guy for future droning. It's possible that all of this talk is just designed to make the Taliban Five crap their pants, but then again, maybe they should be crapping their pants.