Congress says the President Barack Obama administration misled them during the Taliban Gitmo detainees trade for Bowe Bergdahl. A recently-issued 98-page report by Republican members of the House of Representatives maintains that the administration did not provide the governing body the 30 days before the release of the prisoners as required by the National Defense Authorization Act and related laws.
Bowe Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban after walking away from his post at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. Bergdahl garnered sympathy because he was held captive for five years and allegedly treated poorly by the Taliban leaders. However, he has been deemed a traitor by others, including some of the men that served with him.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 10, 2015
Guantanamo Bay detainees dubbed the “Taliban Five” were released and exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl. The arrangement was announced at a now-infamous Rose Garden press conference with President Obama and Bergdahl’s parents. The controversial prisoner exchange was hotly debated by lawmakers and Americans alike even before allegations that Sgt. Bergdahl was a traitor surfaced. Many voiced concerns that the president had created a precedent for the United States to negotiate with terrorists.
The House Armed Services Committee report also offered details about the negotiating with leaders in Qatar to facilitate the Taliban Five swap for Bergdahl, MSN reports. According to statements in the committee’s report, the Taliban prisoners were placed on a plane to Qatar just three hours after the accused deserter and traitor has released into U.S. custody and two days after the Obama administration informed Congress about the release of the Gitmo detainees.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 10, 2015
Bergdahl was charged with “misbehavior before the enemy” and desertion in March, NBC News reports. An Army officer requested that a specialized court-martial proceeding be enacted and that only misdemeanor-level charges be levied against the accused deserter. The Taliban prisoners exchanged for the soldier were ordered to remain in Qatar for a designated period of time and were prohibited from engaging on the battlefield again. Exactly how the non-military engagement portion of the swap will be enforced also remains a topic of much speculation and heated debate.
The Congressional review of the Bergdahl and Taliban Five exchange reportedly included the investigation of more than 4,000 pages of related documents, approximately 16 classified interviews, hours of corresponding videos, and trips to both the Gitmo prison camp and Qatar.
“In the months preceding the Taliban Five transfer, the administration did not communicate any of the specifics or contemplated courses of action to the committee, and the information it did convey was misleading and obfuscatory,” the House Armed Services Committee report said. “Some of the Taliban Five have engaged in threatening activities since being transferred to Qatar. Regrettably, this outcome is a consequence of a poorly managed process undertaken contrary to a law specifically intended to minimize the risk posed by detainee transfers.”
In the rebuttal response of the report by House Democrats, California Representatives Jackie Speir and Washington Representative Adam Smith deemed the findings to be both partisan and “unbalanced.” The Democrats did agree, however, that Congress should have been informed about the prisoner swap by the Defense Department 30 days before it occurred. The rebuttal report described the legality of the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange as “unsettled.”
What do you think about the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap and the new report about the Taliban Five exchange?
[Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP]