Rep. McKeon: Obama May Free More From Gitmo Without Congress

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 06:50 PM

By Greg Richter

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House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon says he fears President Barack Obama will release more suspected terrorists without alerting Congress despite the backlash he has seen from the recent trade of five Taliban leaders for a U.S. soldier.

The White House kept Congress in the dark for several months on the deal to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, McKeon, a California Republican, told CNN on Wednesday.

"I'm afraid they're going to try to do it again," he said.

When CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked if he meant the administration might release more detainees from the prison at Guantanamo without telling Congress, McKeon said that was exactly what he meant.

McKeon said he doesn't buy the White House's explanation that Congress was kept out of the loop over fears that a leak could endanger Bergdahl's life. He said the administration first told Congress of talks to trade the five Taliban members for Bergdahl in November 2011 and that no leaks ever happened.

Various media outlets have reported that members of both parties repeatedly advised the White House against releasing the five men — all said to be top Taliban leaders.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifying Wednesday before McKeon's committee, acknowledged that "trust has been broken" after the administration failed to follow a law requiring 30 days' notice to Congress of the release of any prisoners from Guantanamo.

McKeon told CNN that Hagel did a good job before the committee in often contentious testimony.

"He has a very tough job," McKeon said, noting that Hagel is now the administration's point man on the Bergdahl swap, charged with taking the brunt of Congress' criticism.

Still, McKeon was unconvinced by Hagel's testimony.

"They talked all around it, but at the end of the day they dealt with terrorists, and because of that we're less safe than we were a couple of weeks ago," he said. "We're more at risk that somebody might take a hostage and demand other things from us."

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