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Former House chairwoman confirms she opposed Guantanamo prisoner swap back in 2011

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Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., right, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., join Venezuelan-Americans gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, May 9, 2014, to pressure the Obama administration to implement sanctions on the regime of Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The then-chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Tuesday night that she opposed the Obama administration's plan back in 2011 to swap Guantanamo Bay detainees for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

In a statement to TheBlaze, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said she was part of the 2011 classified meeting with the National Security Council, the CIA, and the Departments of State and Defense where the idea was discussed, and when she chaired the committee.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., right, confirmed on Tuesday that she opposed the administration's plan to swap Guantanamo detainees for Army Sgt. Bergdahl. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

"I can reaffirm that I, and many of my colleagues, strongly stated our opposition to any deal for Sgt. Bergdahl that would in any way benefit the Taliban or jeopardize the safety and security of our brave men and women in uniform who placed their lives on the line day in and day out to protect their fellow servicemen and women, our country, and our national security interests," Ros-Lehtinen said.

Ros-Lehtinen's office noted that because the meeting was classified, she never spoke of it before. On Tuesday, however, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged that the meeting took place, and Ros-Lehtinen charged that the Obama administration leaked the idea of a prisoner swap to the press in 2011.

She said she is "outraged" that the administration would so quickly agree to the swap despite congressional opposition, and without proper notification. House members have said they got five hours' notice about the deal, not the 30 days' notice required by law.

"I'm outraged and disgusted that, over the past week, the administration, without consulting Congress, would legitimize Hamas by supporting its PA unity scheme and now embolden the Taliban by swapping these five terrorists for Sgt. Bergdahl and breaking the solemn promise that we will not negotiate with terrorists," she said.

Earlier Tuesday, Boehner made the same point — that the swap promotes the idea that the U.S. will now negotiate with terrorists, which puts U.S. lives at risk around the world.

"[W]e all must be mindful that the United States has diplomatic, civilian, and military personnel deployed in other countries with both challenging security environments and active terrorist networks interested in targeting not just our facilities but our people,” he said. "One of their greatest protections – knowing that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists – has been compromised.

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