House panel to probe prisoner swap
By Rebecca Shabad - 06/02/14 09:36 AM EDT
The House Armed Services Committee will investigate President Obama's decision to circumvent Congress in swapping five Guantanomo Bay prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Berdahl, the panel's chairman said Monday.
“We will be holding hearings. I’m sorry this is being portrayed as a Republican issue,” Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.”
McKeon said Obama “broke the law” by not informing Congress 30 days before he released the five Taliban detainees from Guatanomo and sent them to Qatar.
Administration officials organized the swap to free U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held captive by the Taliban for five years. He was rescued by U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Saturday night.
The prisoner swap was met with outrage from Republicans in Congress, with many lawmakers accusing Obama of "negotiating with terrorists" to free a soldier who has been accused of deserting the Army in Afghanistan.
McKeon noted that National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Sunday said the deal had been in the works for some time, and said Congress should have been informed along the way.
“I don’t know who they were talking to. I have not been a part of this and I’m the chairman of the committee,” he said.
“Now we’re 72 hours after the fact, and they still haven’t told us how they’re going to ensure that these five, top-level Taliban terrorists are not coming back into the fight,” McKeon said.
Rice on Sunday said the the White House acted quickly on the Bergdahl transfer because his health was "growing more fragile."
McKeon, who’s retiring at the end of the year, said the administration wants to close Guantanamo Bay for “political reasons,” but he said closing it is against the law.
“It’s there for a purpose to keep these terrorist out of the fight, and to keep them secure.”