June 1st, 2014
04:17 PM ET
4 months ago

Members of Congress waiting for briefing on Bergdahl release

(CNN) – More than 24 hours after Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release, Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he still has not been briefed by administration officials on the swap.

The California Republican plans to hold hearings about the Bergdahl exchange, he told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on Sunday.

"We're getting our information - other than a very brief notification–we're getting most of our information now from the media," he said in an exclusive interview on “Newsroom.”

Bergdahl, who had been held by Afghan militants for the past five years, was handed over to U.S. control Saturday in a prisoner swap brokered by Qatar that included the release of five detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

McKeon said his staff was notified by the Defense Department Saturday after the exchange took place, but he pointed to a law that requires the administration to notify Congress 30 days before detainees are released from the facilities at Guantanamo Bay.

"They're not following the law. They know they're not following the law," he said. "It's been a day now, and they still haven't told us details."

When President Barack Obama signed the law in December, he added a "signing statement" to the bill, meaning he would override restrictions - such as the 30-day notification - if he felt that such action fell within his constitutional authority as President.

Such signing statements have been used by previous presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday that the "acute urgency" of Bergdahl's declining health justified the administration's decision to execute the swap without telling Congress.

"It was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement, because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sgt. Bergdahl would have been lost," she said on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley."

McKeon, like other members of Congress have said this weekend, wants more details on the assurances given to the United States that the detainees will not fight Americans again.

"These five guys are all known to have had - most of them, if not all of them, because we haven't received the information that we should have received - have blood on their hands. American blood," McKeon said. "To think that they would not re-enter the fight is ludicrous."

McKeon said the latest development marks another dent in the relationship between the White House and Congress.

"I just think their credibility in Congress and in the nation – -and around the world - is slipping greatly," he said.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Buck Mckeon • Congress • Guantanamo Bay • President Obama • Terrorism
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Richard in Houston

    Oh please! Another investigation. You want to throw a fit because you were not in the room when the descion was made. Grow up puts some big boy pants on and go to work.

    June 1, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Ali

    Hey if Obama saves an American he's bad, if terrorist kills an American he's bad. Desperate Republicans once more.

    June 1, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Marie MD

    Another teaklan from CA and another investigation of what again? Something in the right wing water?

    June 1, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Blake

    I bet these five Taliban guys will have drone strikes queued up for them when they get out of their Qatar prison cells and the GOP will complain that Obama went back on the spirit of the deal by droning them illegally... It's really gotten that bad. What are these guys super villains? They would probably have been droned 10x over if they weren't stuck in Gitmo sucking up taxpayer money.

    I will also like to see any GOP congressman go up to the parents and tell them personally why they're going after the people who saved their son from perpetual imprisonment and even death, for not giving proper 30 days notice... yeah would love to see that "photo op."

    The Administration is saying they didn't have 30 days to notify them ahead of time due to his failing health. 30 days notice doesn't help anyone if the US soldier dies in that time. Also it seems Republicans are spinning this a tad bit when they got notice. Notice was given AFTER the release of Bergdahl to US custody but BEFORE the Gitmo prisoners were released. Still not good notice but it was given. (of course by that point the Admin could have gone back on the deal, but that might further kill long terms deals with the Taliban which unfortunately HAVE to occur based on the situation in Afghanistan/Pakistan).

    Now when he gets better we can decide to investigate (and should) his disappearance further. Until then due process is what he deserves and I believe it's worth it that he's now home not just for his Parent's closure, but for the closure of the friends and families of those that went looking to take him back and died. If he died over there it would have been all for nothing. If he's found guilty he should be dishonorably discharged for desertion and getting fellow soldiers killed in the process. But leaving him to rot over there because its alleged he had plans to desert it not right.

    June 1, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    A California republican wants to hold a hearing. What a novel idea.

    June 1, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. Thomas

    This sounds like another great investigation that could only be done with the leadership of Darrel Issa and Louie Gohmert .

    Welcome home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl , welcome home !

    June 1, 2014 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  7. Ron

    If it was Bush who had negotiated the release, the Republicans would be standing up and cheering loudly. Instead, since it was the Obama administration....Well, you get the drift–business as usual. Do everything you can to destroy Obama. This reaction is sickening. We are in for more hearings for political reasons.

    June 1, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  8. Miami Mike

    Of course Dems only understand short-term gains rather than long-term effects.

    Now that terrorists know they can trade for prisoners, all of our service personnel are now targets for kidnapping-for-prisoner-trade.

    BTW: Didn't Obama promise to close Giantanamo in 2008? Oh well, another ObamaLie.

    June 1, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. NYBravest

    2 for 2. Kill Osama and return an American home. Stop your obstructionist whining and do something constructive for once.

    June 1, 2014 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. Connie

    Obama made the correct move on doing the exchange no matter what move he make Congress and some people will gripe. I admire our President for making a move to save this American.

    June 1, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  11. Ron Paul

    Chairman McKeon is right. This has never been done before... unless you include Reagan's Iran-Contra

    June 1, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. John

    You can bet the GOP is chomping at the bit for this one.......not one of the "complaining patriots" will have served a day in a war zone, let alone had been imprisoned for 5 years, but one thing is for sure....Obama will be called a coward for bringing this brave american home..............both parties have been respectable in the past, now only the democratic party is.....

    June 1, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. king

    This repub congress have tied this president down since 2010. Its amazing how every decision he makes as president is a big investigation, on the other hand if he choses not to make a decision he's weak and decisive and is not making other countrues respect us. If he does make a decision he's a tyrannical dictator who needs to be impeached. The repubs have drawn this country to stand still while china rushes up behind and is in good shape to take over as leader of the free world. I remembered back in 2009 and 2010, those two years when dems held both the legislative branch and Obama was president might go down in history as the most priductive 2 years in our country's history

    June 1, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  14. Gary

    You were not told because you would have screwed it up. If we want to get anything done right we need to bypass any Republicans.

    June 1, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  15. Bigwilliestyles

    Meh. It's done now. Live with it. You know, like yellow cake and WMDs.

    June 1, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  16. S. B. Stein

    I would hope that these Taliban leaders are tagged with a GPS tracker. Once they are released into the wild, we can track them with the signmal.

    June 1, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  17. jboh

    Time to tell TEA/GOP congress to take a long walk on a short pier. Don't tell them anything, except to shut up and be for America instead of party.

    June 1, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  18. TK

    America new motto, we negotiate with terrorists.

    June 1, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  19. jboh

    Remember all those W signing statements saying he concidered laws suggestions. Well, your boy Georgie set the precedent. Now live by the rules YOU wrote TEA/GOP.

    June 1, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  20. tychi

    The GOP is unhappy the soldier was released. Of course the GI was not their child. GOP = Pathetic

    June 1, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  21. smith1

    one more investigation to waste tax payers money. one more phoney conspiracy .The president can not win with this group of clowns. Old senator Mc Cain from Arizona did not know about the VA scandal but the president should. Maybe McCain needs to stay home and fix his own state mess. And Rogers uses every thing he can to bring down this administration, Vote all the repos out so we can move forward.

    June 1, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  22. Smitty

    It only took Obumbles 3 weeks to respond about the V.A. which he said he was going to fix, so im sure this will take a month. The BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR just keeps FAILING on all fronts.

    June 1, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  23. AlGoreStillLIes

    Well, now everyone knows that the U.S. will negotiate for any kidnapped soldier, tourist, govt. employee, etc.
    Idiots.
    The only thing that made others both fear and respect the united states WAS the ability for this country and its leaders to stand by that simple policy.
    Thank you, Obama and cronys...I know you guys had the brilliant thought that negotiating for prisoners would "help save lives" of those caught behind enemy lines.
    Ha!

    June 1, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  24. Iamnotfooled

    Better then doing NOTHING. Although Republicans can relate to doing NOTHING. Great job. Welcome Home Bowe.

    June 2, 2014 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  25. Mike

    congress cannot legislate a 30 day notice to release people that were never charged or convicted of anything

    June 2, 2014 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
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