The Pentagon broke the law in May when it transferred five Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay in exchange for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to a report from the GAO, a government watchdog agency.
The law also prohibits the Pentagon from using appropriated funds to conduct any detainee transfer, unless the Defense secretary gives the 30 days of advance notice.
The Pentagon said it spent $988,400 on the detainee transfer, according to the report.
“As a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD also violated the Antideficiency Act,” the agency found. “DOD should report its Antideficiency Act violation as required by law.”
That report, outlining the violation and any measures taken by the Pentagon in response, would then go to Congress and the president, according to a GAO spokeswoman.
The watchdog report is a legal opinion and will not lead to further measures, said the spokeswoman.
The seven-page finding is in response to a request by Republican lawmakers for an opinion, the report said.
The report’s finding could refuel criticism of the Obama administration’s decision to swap the five senior Taliban commanders for Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban since 2009. [NORM ‘n’ AL Note: “Could refuel criticism of the Obama administration”? Do we really need ANYTHING at this point to “refuel” criticism of Mr. O and his sorry attempt at acting like a leader? He has already proven he’s not even close to a smart leader, which means he is really not able to lead at all. The bigger problem is that he doesn’t know he’s not smart and not a leader. He’s not even a good golfer, for crying out loud.]
The Obama administration has argued the swap was within the president’s constitutional authority to protect U.S. personnel overseas. [NORM ‘n’ AL Note: Obviously Mr. O and the White House and the Justice Department and the Defense Department were ALL WRONG. Just another sorry instance of Mr. O jumping the gun to get something done without checking on the legality of his own dumb move first. Whether his dumb moves are legal or illegal, seems like we can always count on them being dumb ones.]
However, lawmakers from both parties were angered by the administration’s move, and some argued the May release could jeopardize the lives of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Others argued it was tantamount to negotiating with terrorists, although the administration negotiated the swap through Qatar.
Bergdahl is currently under investigation by the Army for possibly deserting his post in Afghanistan or being absent without leave, both of which are violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. His investigation is expected to wrap up in September.
[by Kristina Wong, writing for THE HILL]
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NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis