Sen. Johnson: Obama Should Have Asked Congress Before Taliban Swap

Monday, 02 Jun 2014 07:47 PM

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President Barack Obama should have consulted Congress before trading five Taliban officials for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Sen. Ron Johnson says.

"Obviously, we're all pleased that Sgt. Bergdahl is safe and is going to be returned to America and home, [but] there are some pretty serious questions that need answers in terms of this negotiation, about this deal,'' Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"These are some of the worst terrorists certainly that we've had in our detention.... I have no idea why the administration didn't come to Congress, at least brief members of the Intelligence Committee.

"I think it just would have been smart from a standpoint of trying to convince members of Congress of what it was they're trying to do,'' he said Monday.

He noted that former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had vetoed a similar deal.

"So, there are some serious questions about this exchange,'' said Johnson, a member of the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security committees.

Story continues below video.

Johnson added that it can be argued that the trade puts Americans in harm's way all over the world.

"That's certainly what I am concerned about. I think that's what a lot of us will be concerned about,'' he said.

"It sends [a message] to terrorists and other people who will try and hold Americans hostage.''

Johnson — whose questioning of Hillary Clinton on Benghazi sparked her infamous ''What difference does it make?'' retort — said he thinks the former secretary of state is purposely dodging tough questions about the 2012 attack.

"The reason I don't think she wants to answer those question is I think she feels culpable. She was the head of the State Department," Johnson said.

"She's head of the department that not only denied the . . . repeated request for beefing up security, they actually ramped down security. And as a result, four Americans are dead.

"I really don't believe that those four brave Americans would have lost their lives had we just had a very small contingent of armed Marines there. That attack I don't think ever would have happened.''

Johnson said it was Clinton's "dereliction of duty'' that led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.

"So, I can see why she doesn't want to talk about this because she doesn't want America fully understanding her culpability, her dereliction of duty," Johnson said.

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