WASHINGTON: The Obama administration asked intelligence agencies for additional assessments of the risks of transferring five senior Taliban detainees to a third country as part of efforts to broker peace with Afghan militants, U.S. spy chiefs told Congress on Tuesday.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence committee, the intelligence officials did not specify which country might be involved. But Reuters and other news agencies have reported that the detainees could be sent to the Gulf state of Qatar, which is acting as an intermediary in peace negotiations.

CIA Director David Petraeus said that analysts from his agency had provided the Obama administration officials with a more recent assessment - the last was done in 2009 - of the security risks of transferring the five Taliban leaders from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

If transferred, the five supposedly would still be subjected to detention or at least heavy surveillance.

But neither Petraeus nor the other intelligence officials offered additional details as to what kind of control or surveillance measures would be imposed by any third country which might be willing to accept transferred detainees.

"In fact, our analysts did provide assessments of the five and the risks presented by various scenarios by which they could be sent somewhere -- not back to Afghanistan or Pakistan -- and then based on the various mitigating measures that could be implemented to ensure that they cannot return to militant activity," he said.

Petraeus' statement came in response to questions from the committee's vice chairman and ranking Republican, Senator Saxby Chambliss, who has emerged as a leading Capitol Hill critic of the proposed transfer.

Chambliss said that any move to transfer the five specific Taliban detainees who are the focus of discussions within the Obama administration is likely to meet with opposition on Capitol Hill.

"It appears from these reports that in exchange for transferring detainees who had been determined to be 'too dangerous to transfer' by the administration's own Guantanamo Review Task Force, we get little to nothing in return," Chambliss said.

"Apparently, the Taliban will not have to stop fighting our troops and won't even have to stop bombing them with IEDs. I have also heard nothing from the (U.S. intelligence community) that suggests that the assessments on the threat posed by these detainees have changed," Chambliss continued.

He added: "I want to state publicly, as strongly as I can, that we should not transfer these detainees from Guantanamo."

Chambliss called on the administration to declassify the intelligence assessments on the detainees, "so that we can have a full and open debate about the wisdom of this transfer before it takes place." (Reuters)