WASHINGTON – Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn on Tuesday blasted the Obama administration for ignoring Congress when it struck a deal to exchange Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five high-level Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.
“(T)he Obama administration disregarded the law of the land and decades of precedent when it orchestrated an illegal and secret terrorist swap that effectively set free five of the most dangerous enemies of America,” Lamborn said in a statement.
The Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee said he would use his senior position on the panel to “ensure that the administration is held accountable for violating the law,” while Republican Senators demanded that hearings be held on their side of the Capitol.
Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, missed nearly a dozen votes on Tuesday and has not weighed in on the issue. The full Armed Services committee is scheduled to receive the first classified briefing on the contentious swap next week.
Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement Wednesday,”Now that Sgt. Bergdahl is safely returned, we need more information about the decision making process and security arrangements the administration made to ensure the prisoners exchanged for Sgt. Bergdahl are not able to return to the fight.”
The executive branch is obligated to notify Congress 30 days before any exchange of war prisoners with another country.
President Barack Obama maintains his administration “consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to expedite a prisoner exchange in order to recover Bergdahl.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Politico that administration officials informed him about the deal.
“I think they complied with the law,” Reid told The Observer.
However, the White House was forced to apologize Monday night to Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein who chairs the Select Committee on Intelligence and is a key Obama supporter, for not informing her or the committee of its actions.
Feinstein told reporters that if she had known about the deal, she would have nixed it.
“There were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade,” Feinstein told The Hill. “I certainly want to know more about whether this man was a deserter.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, told Fox News that the Obama administration had essentially negotiated with terrorists for the release.
“The likelihood of an American citizen being kidnapped in the future by a terrorist organization in light of this decision goes through the roof,” Graham said.
Bergdahl mysteriously disappeared from his unit in Afghanistan then was kidnapped by the Taliban and held hostage for five years. He was exchanged in a prisoner swap on Saturday.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Associated Press that an Army investigation is pending that would determine whether Bergdahl deserted his post.