Lawmakers Demand Hearings on Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange

Monday, 02 Jun 2014 12:47 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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President Barack Obama needs to answer to Congress for "ignoring the law" by authorizing the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon and Sen. James Inhofe said in a joint statement, Fox News reported.

"In executing this transfer, the president also clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress thirty days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay and to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated," the statement by the two Republicans reads. Obama "chose to ignore the law, not to mention sound policy."

McKeon, of California, is the House Armed Services Committee chairman, and Inhofe, of Oklahoma, is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. They are demanding congressional hearings on the matter.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking from Afghanistan, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice made the Sunday talk show rounds, defending the administration's actions as "consistent with the U.S. pledge to leave no man behind on the battlefield," according to The Washington Post.

GOP critics, meanwhile, argue that the move goes against longstanding U.S. policy of not negotiating with terrorists in addition to the president failing to notify lawmakers within the required 30-day period beforehand.

"Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl's release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans," according to the statement by McKeon and Inhofe. "Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk."

Bergdahl, 28, spent five years as a prisoner of war held by the Taliban. The United States government on Saturday exchanged five Afghan inmates for the Hailey, Idaho, resident. The exchange took place in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

Bergdahl is receiving treatment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and when he's able, will likely be transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, according to CNN.

U.S. officials say Bergdahl's health was deteriorating, necessitating the need for immediate action. The White House says it negotiated the deal with the government of Qatar, which has promised to ensure the five prisoners exchanged for Bergdahl cannot leave the country for at least a year.

GOP Arizona Sen. John McCain, a POW during the Vietnam War, was dismayed at the administration's decision to released five "high-level" Taliban officials.

"It is disturbing that these individuals would have the ability to re-enter the fight, and they are big, high-level people, possibly responsible for the deaths of thousands," McCain said during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," The Post reported.

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