Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday he will soon introduce legislation to stop President Barack Obama from releasing more Guantanamo Bay detainees until more is known about the prisoner swap involving Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
“[W]e’re hearing talk they are considering releasing yet another Guantanamo terrorist,” Cruz said on “Hannity” Wednesday. “I intended next week to file legislation to halt any releases from Guantanamo until we get to the bottom of what happened in Bergdahl and provide some real congressional oversight here because it is really needed.”
Cruz’s comments, and those from other GOP senators on Wednesday, show that skepticism about the Bergdahl swap is deepening among the GOP. That skepticism is growing even after a Wednesday briefing that U.S. officials gave to senators about the Bergdahl swap.
Cruz said at this point, people need to know more from the administration about why it thought it was safe to release the five Guantanamo detainees.
“The White House in my view should release, should declassify the files on the Gitmo five,” he said. “If they say that we should hand these terrorists over, the American people deserve to know, what have they done?”
Other senators on Wednesday accused Obama of pushing for the safe return of Bergdahl in order to promote the idea that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is complete. But they said that plan blew up in Obama’s face when the administration paid too high a price for Bergdahl, agreeing to the release of five dangerous Taliban detainees.
“I believe it was done as part of a political narrative that the president tried to further last week that the war in Afghanistan was over, and that our last prisoner had been returned,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told reporters late Wednesday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he believes Obama was “looking for a twofer” on Afghanistan. Just days earlier, Obama had announced that 9,800 troops would remain in Afghanistan after this year, and Graham said Obama likely wanted to announce that the last U.S. prisoner in Afghanistan was now home.
While Republicans have been more vocal with their criticism, Cruz dismissed the idea that only Republicans are worried about the agreement.
“There is bipartisan concern over what appears to have been a very, very troubling deal,” he said. “This should not have been done in a negotiation with terrorists to release the Gitmo five.”
Some senators said U.S. officials used that briefing to show video of Bergdahl before he was released, and that Bergdahl appeared to be ill in that video. But that briefing seemed to do little to change Rubio’s mind on the situation.
“I remain increasingly convinced from everything we’ve been presented that these five individuals that have been released will soon return to the fight against America,” Rubio said. “And I remain increasingly convinced that … the president is now setting precedent that will encourage enemies of the United States to target American men and women in uniform, to capture them in order to carry out some other exchange in the future.”
Under the agreement, Qatari officials are supposed to keep the five detainees in Qatar for one year. But Rubio said officials didn’t have much more to say about the assurances made on how they will keep the detainees confined to Qatar.
Rubio said there was not much more said, “beyond the fact that they made a promise.”
Rubio also said he believes the administration violated the law by only giving Congress a few hours notice about the prisoner swap.
“In my opinion there’s no question that the president violated the law by not notifying Congress,” he said.