By Adam Levine
The nation's top military officer said he is "concerned" about transferring prisoners from Guantanamo in a deal to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he is "concerned about our ability to maintain vigilance and control of those individuals" if released, though he added he is supportive of the reconciliation talks. Dempsey made the comment during testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
The comments come on the same day a Taliban spokesman told CNN's Nick Paton Walsh that while the Taliban have met with U.S. officials to discuss possible peace talks, they but do not want to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government, a Taliban spokesman said Tuesday.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the committee that no prisoner would be transferred out without his certification that they will not return to battlefield, a requirement created by Congress.
"I have made very clear that unless I am convinced that in this kind of situation those steps are taken to ensure that these individuals do not wind up going back to the battlefield, I am not going to certify that kind of transfer," Panetta said.
Republican Senator John McCain, who raised the issue during the hearing, noted to Panetta that one quarter of those released have returned to terrorism in the past.