Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers said President Barack Obama violated U.S. laws when he approved the exchange of an American soldier believed held by Islamist insurgents for five years for five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon of California and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said Saturday in a statement that Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any transfer of terrorists from the U.S. detention facility.
McKeon is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Inhofe is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In response, the White House says that officials considered what they called “unique and exigent circumstances” and decided to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement.
Lawmakers weren’t notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred, according to the Washington Post.
More from the Post:
A senior administration official, agreeing to speak on the condition of anonymity to explain the timing of the congressional notification, acknowledged that the law was not followed. When he signed the law last year, Obama issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.
“Due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life, we moved as quickly as possible,” the official said, the Post noted. “The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the detainees transferred from Guantanamo to Qatar, where they are to stay for at least a year, the Post added, “are hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans and countless Afghans on their hands. I am eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists never return to the fight against the United States and our partners or engage in any activities that can threaten the prospects for peace and security in Afghanistan.”
Featured image: AP