Tags: Afghanistan | America's Forum | Barack Obama | Bowe Bergdahl Freed | War on Terrorism | ileana ros-lehtinen | imperial

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen: 'Congress Does Not Trust the President'

By Melissa Clyne   |   Friday, 06 Jun 2014 02:32 PM

The swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five senior Taliban leaders is yet another example of President Barack Obama's imperialism, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said on Newsmax TV's America's Forum, adding that both Congress and the American people need to "hold his feet to the fire."

"This is an imperial presidency, with Obamacare being the most flagrant example," the Florida Republican said. "He keeps passing laws with our opposition."

"Congress does not trust the president."

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Obama considers laws a "suggestion," she said, pointing out that the signing statement for the National Defense Authorization Act specifically requires that Congress — the entire body, not just key members — be notified 30 days before the release of any detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The narrative being floated by the White House, that key members of Congress were briefed in advance of the swap, is a blatant lie, according to Ros-Lehtinen.

While chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2011, Ros-Lehtinen told hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman that she and other ranking members were briefed about "the possibility" of a swap, at which time they unilaterally opposed it.

"We thought it was a done deal, settled," she explained.

Three years later, with the knowledge of "strong bipartisan opposition," Obama made the exchange anyway.

"They strung out this narrative that (Bergdahl's) health was at risk," she said. "When you don't tell the truth the first time, the story gets all muddled."

"This is just a terrible mistake for national security, putting the lives of our men and women in uniform at risk because the terrorists want to clean out Guantanamo, they want their brothers released from Gitmo, and now they've seen, 'oh, I see, one soldier equals five of our brothers in arms released,'" she said.

It's confounding, she added, why just three years later "the administration and intelligence community … are now seeing this as not a problem and almost as a business as usual."

"It is setting a precedent," according to Ros-Lehtinen. "It is dangerous."

"If the president wants to continue with his position of wanting to clean out Guantanamo, I hope that he's not going be using our men and women as bargaining chips to accomplish that goal that he has not been able to accomplish, because if we capture one of those evil guys again, the very people we just freed, on the battlefield, where do we put them?

Wherever it is that we put them, that's going to be the next Gitmo because you've got to put them somewhere. Better that they're offshore and not a threat to the US."

Also untrue, according to Ros-Lehtinen, is the administration's contention that they conducted the swap in secrecy because they were concerned about leaks.

Congress was briefed three years ago about a possible trade and "no one said a darn word until the administration put out word, oh, we notified Congress in 2011. And then all of us started to speak and say, yeah, you did, and we said no, don't do it. We don't leak. The administration leaks when it's in their favor."

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