Hoekstra: Congress Will Do Nothing About Bergdahl Swap

Friday, 22 Aug 2014 02:58 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Congress will not take action against the Obama Administration for violating federal law when the Defense Department orchestrated the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five detainees from Guantanamo Bay, says former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra.

"Congress is not making it, and I don't think will make it a big deal," Hoekstra told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV Friday. 

"The president will just kind of get a license to do more of what he wants to do over the last two years of his administration," he added.

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The Government Accountability Office said that the Defense Department failed to give certain congressional committees a 30-day notice of the swap, which is required under federal law. In addition, the GAO said that the Pentagon used money that wasn't available for the transfer, which is a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act. 

"The Anti-Deficiency Act, it's an old word, it's an old term, but it's very, very powerful," Hoekstra explained. "What it says is the executive branch has spent money that it has no authority to spend. That is a big deal."

However, the former Michigan Republican congressman contends that "when Congress comes back in September, the Democrats will defend the president; the Republicans in the House may pass some resolutions condemning this and talking about violating the law and the Anti-Deficiency Act."

But ultimately, he doesn't think Congress will do anything about it.

"The very interesting thing will be this is one where now if Congress isn't going to hold the president accountable, maybe the American people will hold the president accountable, and that will happen in November," Hoekstra said.

"It's called an election where the American people say, you know, 'we do have three branches of government, we need a stronger wall to hold this president back and to limit his executive actions in the last two years,'" he added.

Hoekstra explained that the laws that were violated by the Obama administration were signed by the president.

The law put "very strict limitations on what the president could do with the detainees at Gitmo — that he couldn't move them to the United States, he couldn't spend money on moving them, and basically saying when you're talking about Gitmo, you've got to be dealing with Congress and the president decided to ignore that with the Bergdahl swap."

He explained that ironically, "the Bergdahl swap came in the context of, 'we've eliminated the threat from al-Qaida.'"

"At that point in time the president was describing [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] as the 'JV team,' and basically claiming 'we're out of Iraq, we're out of Afghanistan, the wars are over, the world is a safer place, it's time to end it, bring Bergdahl back,'" he added.

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