WASHINGTON— A new report by the House Armed Services Committee claims that the Obama administration broke the law during the process of releasing five Taliban prisoners in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014.
The report also stated the administration should have notified Congress sooner, a finding also shared by a similar report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released last year.
“Our report finds that the Administration clearly broke the law in not notifying Congress of the transfer,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “Leading up to the transfer, DOD officials misled Congress as to the status of negotiations. Pentagon officials best positioned to assess the national security risks were left out of the process, which increases the chances of dangerous consequences from the transfer. It is irresponsible to put these terrorists that much closer to the battlefield to settle a campaign promise and unconscionable to mislead Congress in the process.”
“The president believes strongly in the principle of ensuring that anybody who puts on the military uniform of the United States is not somebody who is going to be left behind by the commander-in-chief,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “There was a unique opportunity that was presented to safely recover Sgt. Bergdahl and that’s exactly what we did.”
The five Taliban members were being held in the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prior to the exchange. Following the exchange, Sgt. Bergdahl was charged with desertion for the actions resulting in his capture by Taliban affiliates in June 2009.
The chairwoman of the Armed Services subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Re. Vicky Hartzle (R-Mo.), stated that “After rigorous investigation, there are still some unknowns. We still do not know if we negotiated for less than five detainees. We do not know how five was determined to be the ‘right’ number in this exchange. However, we now know to what extent this Administration is willing to go to achieve political goals.”