CNN's Toobin: Obama Broke Law in Freeing Sgt. Bergdahl

Image: CNN's Toobin: Obama Broke Law in Freeing Sgt. Bergdahl President Barack Obama and Bob and Jani Bergdahl, the parents of freed U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, return to the Oval Office after speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 31.

Monday, 02 Jun 2014 08:07 PM

By Greg Richter

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President Barack Obama's critics are right when they say he broke the law to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from his Taliban captors, says CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

"I think he clearly broke the law," Toobin said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

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"The law says 30-days' notice. He didn't give 30-days' notice," Toobin said Monday.

The president is required by law to give 30-days' notice before freeing any prisoners held in the war on terror from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. No notice was given when five Taliban leaders were exchanged for Bergdahl's release Saturday.

The White House says an exception is allowed in emergencies, and it said Bergdahl's health was at risk. It said a "signing statement" by Obama allowed for the exception.

But Toobin noted that signing statements are "not law" and that liberals were critical of President George W. Bush when he issued them during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

"The law is on the books, and he didn’t follow it," Toobin said of Obama's actions.

"You realize, of course, you're accusing the president of the United States of breaking the law," Blitzer said.

Toobin replied that the White House likely isn't concerned about his opinion, and said Obama is unlikely to suffer any legal consequences. The courts prefer to have Congress and the executive branch work out such squabbles, he said, and Congress is unlikely to hold impeachment proceedings over it.

"But, you know, it matters whether people follow the law or not," he said.

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