Dershowitz: Obama Didn't Break Law in Gitmo Releases

Image: Dershowitz: Obama Didn't Break Law in Gitmo Releases

Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 06:20 AM

By Greg Richter

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President Barack Obama did not break the law in releasing five Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison in exchange for a captured U.S. Army sergeant, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said.

The president, as commander in chief, has full authority to implement American foreign policy, Dershowitz said Monday on "CNN Tonight." The law requires Congress to be notified 30 days in advance of any such release, but the White House has said the health of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was at stake, and it had to act quickly.

"If the statute were to be construed to require the president, even in situations of emergency and imminence, to consult with Congress, that statute might well be unconstitutional as constraining the president's power," Dershowitz said.

CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin earlier in the day told the network's Wolf Blitzer he believes Obama clearly broke the law, but he expects no legal ramifications.

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Republicans have called for hearings into why Obama didn't follow the 30-day notification rule. Dershowitz said politics should not be part of the debate.

The United States, Israel, and other countries have been negotiating with terrorists for years, he said, but the debate going forward should be whether America will say no to further negotiations with terrorists under any circumstances.

"Don't make it an incentive to capture more prisoners, to put bounties on the head of American soldiers," Dershowitz said.

The assumption when such a deal is made is that it may cost additional lives, he said, but people tend to assign more value to a known person with a name and face, such as Bergdahl, than an abstract person who may die in the future as a result of the deal made for his release.

"That's why emotionally we are inclined to make the deal," Dershowitz said. "Rationally, it's a bad deal."

Qatar acted as a go-between for the United States and the Taliban. The Taliban members are supposed to remain in Qatar for at least one year and not return to battle.

Dershowitz said one has to assume the men are a threat to national security. Such high-ranking Taliban members "are zealously committed to repeating their terrorism, and they will go back to commit terrorism," he said.

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