Washington (CNN) – The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said a top White House national security official called her Monday night and apologized for not providing Congress with 30 days’ notice, as is required by law, before transferring five Guantanamo detainees in the recent swap for prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl.
“It’s very disappointing that there was not a level of trust to justify alerting us to that,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, told reporters. “I had a call from the White House last night, from (Deputy National Security Adviser) Tony Blinken, apologizing for it.”
Feinstein said it was her impression from the call that the lack of a notification was an oversight on the part of the White House, although she said Blinken may not have used that exact word.
Feinstein said the top Democrats and Republicans on the national security committees on Capitol Hill had discussed the possibility of a prisoner swap in 2011 “when it was part of a bigger proposal,” but “there were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade.”
Asked if that Congressional opposition could have been the reason the White House didn’t notify Congress, Feinstein said yes.
“Yeah, it could be. But the White House is pretty unilateral about what they want to do when they want to do it. I think the notification to us is important and I think it would have been a much better thing to do because you do try to work together,” she said.
House Speaker John Boehner released a statement that touched on the talks from 2011 and 2012 with Congress, saying serious questions were raised to the administration when the possibility of such an exchange was brought up.
"Unfortunately, the questions and concerns we had were never satisfactorily answered and they remain today," he said.
Boehner said the administration "provided assurances" in late 2011, early 2012 and again in 2013 that talks with Congress over an exchange would resume if the possibility became credible again.
"There was every expectation that the administration would re-engage with Congress, as it did before, and the only reason it did not is because the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition," he argued.
The speaker added that he supported calls by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon to hold hearings on the issue.