Bergdahl Trade Illegal According To GAO Legal Finding
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan government watchdog agency, said yesterday that the Obama Administration broke the law when they traded five Taliban terrorists for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl in June.
Issued at the request of congress, the GAO legal finding states that the Obama Administration broke the law by failing to notify Congress at least 30 days in advance of the impending Bergdahl trade. The GAO legal finding also states that the Obama Administration broke an additional law in using money to complete the Bergdahl trade that wasn't available.
Defense Department press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told Fox News Thursday night, "the operation to retrieve Sgt. Bergdahl was lawfully conducted and that was also the judgment of the Justice Department. Nothing has changed about our view that this was a lawful recovery operation."
However, the GAO legal finding says the law in this case is "clear and unambiguous." "In our view, DOD has dismissed the significance of the express language" in the law, regardless of how vehemently the Obama Administration defends the deal which traded Bergdahl for the Taliban terrorists.
It is disturbing on many levels that the Pentagon now relies on this Justice Department.
The GAO legal finding of the Bergdahl trade comes three months after the Obama administration released five senior Taliban terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl, who deserted his post in 2009.
Don't worry about the five dangerous terrorists Obama released in the Bergdahl trade. They won't be attacking Americans any time soon. Obama thought of everything and insisted that the five Taliban terrorists spend a year in Qatar. One whole year! Despite the fact that to Taliban terrorists, a year in Qatar may as well be Club Med. What's really sad about this provision of the Bergdahl trade is that Obama claims that these hardened terrorists aren't a threat to America because they'll be in Qatar.
Thankfully, the Obama Administration didn't just release the five most dangerous terrorists at Guantanamo into the wild. The Bergdahl trade carefully protects us by insisting
Congress complained about the security implications of releasing Taliban terrorists from Guantanamo. Congressional leaders also had a problem with not being notified of the Bergdahl trade at least 30 days in advance, as the law requires. Going forward with the swap was a clear violation of the law, according to the Bergdahl trade legal opinion.
Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, who was one of the Congressional lawmakers who requested the GAO finding over the Bergdahl trade, said Obama “clearly defied” the law. "We have all seen the President decide to override the concept of checks and balances in many questionable executive actions, but the GAO opinion confirms that by doing so in connection with the release of Bowe Bergdahl, he engaged in a clear violation of the law,” she said in a statement. “I hope this opinion by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office sends a clear signal to the President that his recent shift towards unilateral action is not consistent with this nation's principles and our carefully designed separation of powers."
Legal Action Over Bergdahl Trade Unlikely
Whether the GAO legal finding will result in any formal legal action is uncertain. The House Armed Services Committee has prepared a “resolution of disapproval” potentially to be considered later this year about the swap, but such a measure is nonbinding.
At issue were recent laws passed by Congress. The latest Defense spending bill states that no money can be used to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to another country "except in accordance" with a separate, related Defense law. That law requires the secretary of Defense to notify key congressional committees at least 30 days before such a transfer.
The Bergdahl trade took place on June 1 which means that the Obama administration would have had to notify Congress by May 1st, which they didn't do. In fact, the Obama Administration provided no advance notice to Congress. Instead, the Administration notified Congress on June 2, after the Bergdahl trade was completed.
"When DOD failed to notify specified Congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of its transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Qatar, DOD used appropriated funds in violation of section 8111," the report said. It also said DOD violated the Antideficiency Act, which bars spending by agencies above the amount of money that Congress has obligated. In this case, the report said the Defense Department spent nearly $1 million more than it had.
The Associated Press and Fox News contributed to this article.