When a White House official called Sen. Saxby Chambliss on Monday to apologize for not informing him of the release of five Guantanamo prisoners in a swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, he told them he was "ticked off" about the deal.
"My reaction was, 'Look, you guys know where I am on this issue. You've got in writing from me my strong objection to the release of these five guys,'" the Georgia Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday. "This was my comment, 'I can't overstate how ticked off I am about this, because I understand the background of all five of them.'"
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Administration officials justified the timing of the prisoner exchange due to concerns about the health of Bergdahl. Chambliss said that in the video he saw, there was "no indication that there were any health issues with Sgt. Bergdahl."
Chambliss said the last communication he had with the administration of President Barack Obama on the idea of the prisoner exchange was "a year and a half ago." There was "no question" there was bipartisan concern about the issue, he said.
Three years ago, Chambliss said he, along with Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, and Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers sent a letter to Obama voicing their concerns about the proposed swap.
At the time, he said they told the White House they couldn't release the five Gitmo detainees because "they're five of the meanest, nastiest killers in the world." Chambliss said they received no response from the president.
Chambliss said he could guarantee "100 percent of these five are going to return to the fight."
"The White House knows that. And that's why this thing just irks me to no end," he said.
The administration needed to declassify files on the released prisoners, Chambliss said, because they needed to explain "to the American people why we think, with that background, it's not a national security issue to release these five guys."
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