Pentagon violates law in prisoner swap
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The Pentagon violated federal law by not providing necessary notifications to relevant Congressional committees about the exchange of five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl this year, an official report said.
In its report released on Thursday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded the Department of Defense “violated” federal law because it did not notify the relevant congressional panels at least 30 days in advance of the transfer.
On May 31, the Pentagon transferred five individuals from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in exchange for Taliban’s release of the American soldier. The defense secretary provided written notice of the transfer by letters dated May 31.
US lawmakers condemned the Pentagon’s role.“By failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance, the president completely disregarded laws duly passed by Congress and signed by his own hand,” a senator alleged.
In addition to simply violating the notification requirement, the administration violated the Anti-Deficiency Act by obligating funds that were not legally available, said Saxby Chambliss, vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
GAO said the Department of Defense also spent almost id="mce_marker" million on setting free the terrorists, when no money was appropriated or authorised by Congress.
Senator Jim Inhofe, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, charged the presidential action was a direct and clear violation of law. “What is most egregious is that the law was specifically written so that Congress could take action that would possibly overrule the president's action if Congress disagreed with any transfer of Guantanamo detainees.
“The president not only violated the law he violated the intent of the founding fathers to have three co-equal branches of government, and increased the threat to the United States and our allies,” he observed.
As the time line to full release of the five Taliban members continued to tick away and the American people continued to disagree, he could only hope the president did not make the same mistake in Afghanistan as he made in Iraq.
Unfortunately the release of the five Taliban only reaffirmed his long-held concern that the president appeared to be making the same strategic mistake again, Inhofe concluded.
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