This isn't necessarily "news," per se, but it's confirmation from a respected nonpartisan source. The 'Taliban Five' for Bergdahl trade, sans mandatory Congressional notification, was not legal. But the Obama White House executed it anyway, over the objections of the intelligence community:
President Obama's decision to exchange captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees violated federal law, according to a legal opinion the Government Accountability Office sent to Congress Thursday. That's because the administration failed to notify Congress at least 30 days before the transfer, as required under a law passed in February. The Pentagon notified Congress of the deal on May 31, the same day the transfer was made. And because Congress did not authorize spending for the exchange, it also violated the Antideficiency Act, a law intended to protect Congress's power of the purse. The Department of Defense spent $988,400 on the transfer, the Pentagon told the GAO. An intentional violation of the Antideficiency Act is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, but those criminal penalties are rarely enforced.
Partisan hackery is expected from hacks, but a number of self-respecting Democrats raised concerns about the swap at the time. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California raised hackles about being kept in the dark by the executive branch, in contravention of the law. The White House's excuse -- at least for awhile -- was that they had to act quickly with no leaks, or else the terrorists were going to kill Bergdahl. This complicated their concurrent narrative that the arrangement was a normal "prisoner exchange," with plenty of precedent in US history. Feinstein shot back that she'd seen no evidence to back up the administration's "they were going to kill him!" excuse. Others also noted that she and her Republican colleague kept extremely sensitive Bin Laden raid details under wraps for months. The Obama White House broke the law, then served up contradictory excuses for doing so. In the end, not only did we effectively negotiate with terrorists to secure the release of an American soldier held hostage (setting aside Bergdahl's record of, um, "honor and distinction"), we released five high-ranking, extremely dangerous Taliban commanders (who are vowing to resume jihad) as our end of the "deal." And how's this for timing?
In an interview with the BBC, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond acknowledged that the apparent executioner spoke with a British accent and said the video seemed to be genuine. Hundreds of Britons are believed to have traveled to Syria to fight in the country’s civil war, including many who have joined the Islamic State...A European intelligence official said the British government was examining the video, and the speech of the purported executioner, to compare it with former Guantanamo Bay prisoners and other British residents believed to have joined the Islamic State. Both prisoners in the video are wearing orange shirts and pants, similar to orange jumpsuits worn by detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Western intelligence services are exploring the possibility that ex-Gitmo detainees (the supposedly "lower threat" ones, released prior to the 'Taliban Five') may hold leadership positions within the death cult that's marauding through vast swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory. A former Guantanamo inmate was also implicated in the deadly 9/11/12 attack on the US compound in Benghazi, too. It's almost as if a lot of these guys really were bloodthirsty Islamist radicals, not innocent victims of US overreach, after all. That's why Congress has repeatedly refused to provide the funds to close the Gitmo detainment center, and why they passed a law that requires the White House to provide ample warning prior to releasing any further inmates. The Obama administration ignored that law, and spent a lot of taxpayer money to complete the illegal transaction. The broke the law knowingly, by their own admission, and in spite of what they knew to be the clear will of Congress. Democrats have decried House Republicans' lawsuit against the White House's flagrant lawlessness on Obamacare, but what other recourse does Congress have to rein in an administration that ignores provisions of laws deemed inconvenient? I know what Democratic campaign committees' answer would be, if only to touch off another round of fake hysteria, designed to extract additional millions from their gullible, paranoid base.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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