The rescue of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has mushroomed into yet "another scandal that is consuming the White House, one which I'm sure they did not anticipate," Florida Rep. Jeff Miller told Newsmax on Tuesday.
"I would suspect that the White House thought that by bringing Sgt. Bergdahl home they would be applauded," Miller, chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, said in an exclusive interview. "Obviously, that's not what's occurring. It is bipartisan outrage."
Over the weekend, Bergdahl, 28, was released in Afghanistan in exchange for five Taliban detainees who were being held in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The deal was brokered by the government of Qatar.
The detainees released include Afghanistan's deputy defense minister under Taliban rule and others who played major roles in the regime that helped shield those behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Bergdahl had been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. He has since come under fire as a deserter who should be held accountable for his actions.
The team leader who supervised Bergdahl appeared on Newsmax TV on Monday and echoed charges made by other platoon members that the sergeant's actions cost the lives of six soldiers
sent to search for him.
Gen. Martin Dempsey
, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that Bergdahl may face disciplinary action if the Army finds evidence of misconduct.
Miller told Newsmax his immediate concern, echoing criticism by other members of Congress, was that "a 5-for-1 trade with high-level al-Qaida prisoners was a bad trade."
"History will be the thing that will ultimately determine whether or not these bad men return to the battle space," he added. "History shows that they will."
Regarding questions surrounding Bergdahl's loyalties, Miller said, "We can sort the Bergdahl issue out over a period of time."
He noted that the Defense Department on Tuesday ordered a new investigation into the sergeant's disappearance. The Army conducted an inquiry in 2009, but the report remains classified, Politico
"You mean to tell me that he's been gone for five years and that hadn't already been done?" Miller asked Newsmax. "Somebody is not paying attention to the important things.
"I'm sure the Bergdahl family and his local community are very glad that he is home, but the issues surrounding his disappearance are issues that will need to be looked at carefully — and should have been looked at by this administration for the last five years."
This, along with the administration's not informing
many top congressional leaders of the swap until Bergdahl was in U.S. custody, is why his release has become another debacle, Miller said.
Under the National Defense Authorization Act, the administration must give Congress 30 days' notice of any pending release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
"It's typical of this White House," Miller told Newsmax. "They do not feel as if they should inform Congress, even when the law requires it, of anything.
"The United States Congress is a co-equal branch to the executive — and the fact that they did not notify Congress is another indication that this administration continues to show disdain for the legislative branch."
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