Watch for fireworks over the Bergdahl trade Wednesday in the Senate


This June 1 handout photo reportedly shows senior Taliban figure Mohammad Nabi Omari being welcomed at an undisclosed location in Qatar.  (nunn.asia via AFP /Getty Images )

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee may be bringing us early Fourth of July fireworks Wednesday at a hearing over three ambassadorial nominees.

The trio this time aren’t bundlers, but career Foreign Service officers nominated for Egypt, Iraq and Qatar, which is the new temporary residence of the Taliban Five, the five senior Taliban leaders released from Guantanamo in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

We’re hearing the ambassadorial nominee for Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, who has served in the region and speaks Arabic, was a late addition to the mix for the hearing, brought in at the insistence of the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.).

The D’s wanted the full committee to focus on  the nominees for Egypt and Syria — Robert Beecroft and Stuart Jones, respectively — that might be enough for one day, we were told. But Corker wanted Qatar included.

Not so, a Corker spokesperson said.  “The administration made the request and both the chairman (Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member agreed.”

While she wasn’t involved in the highly controversial deal, Smith will come under sharp questioning over the how the Taliban will be dealt with by Qatar, which has pledged to monitor their one-year stay.

Under terms of the still-secret deal, sources told our colleague Anne Gearan, the Taliban will be subject to strict bans on militant incitement or fundraising in Qatar as well as a one-year ban on traveling outside the country. However, one of the five has already pledged to return to the battlefield to fight Americans.

The official Bergdahl hearing is happening across the Hill featuring Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel before the House Armed Services Committee. But if you can’t get a seat at that one, you can surely get your Bergdahl outrage fix at the nomination hearing.

Starts at 11 a.m.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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