House GOP: Bergdahl Prisoner Swap Was Illegal

Report accuses administration of acting recklessly
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2015 4:21 AM CST
House GOP: Bergdahl Prisoner Swap Was Illegal
In this August 2014 photo, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl prepares to be interviewed by Army investigators.   (AP Photo/Eugene R. Fidell, File)

The Obama administration broke the law and deceived Congress when it traded five Guantanamo detainees for Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl last year, according to a House Armed Services Committee report seen by the New York Times and the Washington Post. The report from the committee's GOP majority, which will be released Thursday, slams the administration for violating a statute that says lawmakers must be informed of detainee transfers 30 days in advance, and accuses the White House of including the high-level detainees in the deal as part of its effort to fulfill Obama's promise to close Guantanamo Bay. The detainees were released to Qatar, which committee staff visited as part of the investigation.

The 98-page report, which reveals new details about the Qatar-brokered negotiations, accuses the administration of acting recklessly and claims House members learned more from a Taliban statement on the exchange than from the Department of Defense, the Post reports. Dissenting Democrats on the committee called the report a "weighted and politically motivated document," CNN reports. In a statement, a Pentagon spokesman said the 30-day rule was sidestepped out of "unwavering commitment and patriotic duty to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield." "We had a near-term opportunity to save Sgt. Bergdahl's life, and we were committed to using every tool at our disposal to secure his safe return," the spokesman said. (Donald Trump thinks Bergdahl should have been executed.)

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