June 10th, 2014
12:00 PM ET
2 months ago

Boehner: Americans could die because of Bergdahl swap

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner predicted Americans would die because of the swap of five Taliban detainees in exchange for the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

"We are going to pay for this. There is not any doubt in my mind that there are going to be costs, lost lives associated with what came out of this," Boehner told reporters Tuesday in his first public comments since the administration announced the deal.

The speaker argued the administration broke with the practice of not negotiating with terrorists and warned that the deal would trigger severe consequences.

"We have violated that policy, and as a result we have made Americans less safe here and all around the world,” he said.

Boehner blasted the administration for not briefing him and other top congressional leaders about the deal, noting that he was trusted with classified information about the plans to pursue Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

"Six months before Osama bin laden was taken down I was briefed on this. I was briefed multiple times over the course of the six months. I was given a heads up several days before this happened. So this idea that they couldn’t trust us to not leak things is just not true," the speaker said. He didn’t provide further details about how specific the briefings were, especially the information he got right before the 2011 raid.

Boehner and other top committee leaders on Capitol Hill were told back in 2011 and 2012 that the administration was discussing a possible prisoner swap of five detainees for Bergdahl's release. In those briefings there was bipartisan resistance to the idea. The speaker on Tuesday insisted he never got detailed information on what the administration was negotiating that led to the trade last month.

"I was never briefed about a five to one swap nor were there ever any names. There was a discussion several years ago about efforts to get Bergdahl back, and we are glad that he is back. But I was never briefed on any specific negotiation."

Under the law, the President is required to notify members of Congress 30 days in advance of any release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. The administration points to a signing statement that the President added to last year's defense bill as the legal basis for going through with the trade without providing that notice to Congress.

Even some congressional Democrats who agree the President could act without telling Congress believe he should have given leadership a heads up.

"My advice to the President would have been, notify. Pick up the phone," Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, told reporters Tuesday.

CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.


Filed under: Bowe Bergdahl • John Boehner
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Doyle Wiley, MI

    Ok; Boehner what is the cost for holding the detainees indefinitely?

    June 10, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    "Never mind the fact that Sen. McCain had proposed this exact deal back in February." – quite an interesting claim by you. Where is your proof that it was the exact deal because that has not been reported any where and McCain in his interview confirmed that he made the statement about a possible prisoner swap BUT needed to see the details. Another "fact" by Rudy that isn't a fact whatsoever.
    -------------------------–
    He was interviewed by Andersen Cooper on "AC360" back in February. McCain proposed a swap of top Taliban detainees. He had even cited the number five. The story has played on every major news outlet, except of course, Fox and other sources of right wing propaganda. It is a fact, tom. McCain's glaring hypocrisy is shameful, but typical of what conservatives do, which is why I have come to dislike them.

    June 10, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    ""Never mind the fact that Sen. McCain had proposed this exact deal back in February." – quite an interesting claim by you. Where is your proof that it was the exact deal because that has not been reported any where and McCain in his interview confirmed that he made the statement about a possible prisoner swap BUT needed to see the details. Another "fact" by Rudy that isn't a fact whatsoever."

    Give it up. McCain already got roasted for his flip-flop (altho it is a little too far to say it was exactly the same deal). CNN won't report it tho because it damages the controversy. See, they only report a factcheck if it's (a) Obama and (b) allows a controversy to be created or aggravated. With McCain's rating of a complete flip-flop (not to mention all the other GOPers/Teatrolls who went back, some many months, to scrub their social media of demands for Bergdahl's release or cheering for it once it happened)...with THAT, it damages the controversy, so it must be hidden and ignored.

    June 10, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. with a grain of salt

    Tim l.,, how do you know it wasn't, your just another pathetic rwnj, who tries to project his dismal view of the world like its prophecy, ridiculous, really. Such as its a given these guys will be out killing again this weekend, or we should ignore treaties and keep them indefinitely, you just can't see yourself for the sorry p.o.s. you are call it like i see it.

    June 10, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Malory Archer

    Donna
    Of course people will die. These are five top terrorists, proven murders and war criminals.

    Probably FAR MORE Afghans and especially Afghan women. It doesn't matter one bit to the Obama adminstration though. They got their White House photo op and the VA scandal off the front pages. Obama also got to get rid of 5 Gitmo prisoners. Had set them all lose on our streets if he thought he could get away with it. He wants to shut down Gitmo no matter how many lives it costs. If the Democrats want them all freed so badly, why aren't they volunteering to take them into their states and cities? LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, etc. Come on Democrats!

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So did you voice all of these concerns when the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was busy releasing more than 500 prisoners, or does it only matter to you when the President has a "D" after his name?

    June 10, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. with a grain of salt

    Example, you complained a lot about Putin and Ukraine, why doesn't his annexation of Georgia bother you, why no criticism of bush, credibility means being honest, and leaving the hypocritical nonsense alone .

    June 10, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. tom l

    I thought you were such a deep thinker, Sniffit. So when someone says "do anything to get him back" are you saying there aren't limits to "anything"? Stop being such a typical partisan. The quote by McCain below clearly shows that he didn't flip flop at all and you are, once again, being super political. I can't believe you're making me defend McCain because I think he's dead wrong about our foreign policy but I don't have to lie or misrepresent what a person says to try and prove my point. And thank you for admitting that Rudy lied "altho it is a little too far to say it was exactly the same deal".

    "Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details.”

    June 10, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. rs

    Mr. Boehner may or may not be correct. However, we know many more Americans will die in the now daily mass-shootings committed in this nation- something the GOP seems fairly complacent with, and many thousands more have died and will continue to die from the lack of affordable healthcare in states where the Republican leadership have elected to opt out of Medicaid expansion.

    Our 5 Taliban (on ice for 10 years and headed for Qatar) would have to be very lucky, or good to equal the record of the GOP.

    June 10, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. rs

    Malory Archer

    Donna
    Of course people will die. These are five top terrorists, proven murders and war criminals.

    Probably FAR MORE Afghans and especially Afghan women. It doesn't matter one bit to the Obama adminstration though. They got their White House photo op and the VA scandal off the front pages. Obama also got to get rid of 5 Gitmo prisoners. Had set them all lose on our streets if he thought he could get away with it. He wants to shut down Gitmo no matter how many lives it costs. If the Democrats want them all freed so badly, why aren't they volunteering to take them into their states and cities? LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, etc. Come on Democrats!

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So did you voice all of these concerns when the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was busy releasing more than 500 prisoners, or does it only matter to you when the President has a "D" after his name?
    _______________________
    Naturally not- just like Benghazi, the GOP can only deal with small numbers. Obviously the 61 State Department employees who died on Mr. Bush' s watch were too many for them to respond to, just as the 520 terrorists released by Bush from Gitmo is clearly too large a number for them to react to either. No, the GOP would rather go on record wetting their pants over 5 POWS, and leaving an American behind.

    June 10, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. YoonYoungJo

    I do agree with Boehner. I think the speaker of the house is 3rd in line in the US power structure. There has to be a certain base to which classified information should be shared.

    I also agree with Boehner regarding the swap although perhaps not to the same degree. There is a part of me that agrees with the sentiment of "leave no man behind". What i don't understand is why more Americans weren't negotiated into the swap. The last time I heard, aren't there more Americans being held hostage?

    With that said, I think everyone needs to keep in mind there could be deep strategic elements to the swap. And there could be reasons that are of great benefit to the US or other branches of the Government we are not aware of.

    June 10, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details.”

    I find it incredulous that a man who was himself "bargained for" is questioning the "bargaining of" another POW.

    June 10, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. CALIFORNIA

    Boehner is obviously correct.

    June 10, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. rs

    Doyle Wiley, MI

    Ok; Boehner what is the cost for holding the detainees indefinitely?
    _____________________
    Good question.
    What about the legality of holding POWs indefinitely?

    June 10, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. O'drama ya Mama

    tom l

    I thought you were such a deep thinker, Sniffit. So when someone says "do anything to get him back" are you saying there aren't limits to "anything"? Stop being such a typical partisan. The quote by McCain below clearly shows that he didn't flip flop at all and you are, once again, being super political. I can't believe you're making me defend McCain because I think he's dead wrong about our foreign policy but I don't have to lie or misrepresent what a person says to try and prove my point. And thank you for admitting that Rudy lied "altho it is a little too far to say it was exactly the same deal".

    "Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details.”
    June 10, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    " Well, at that time the proposal was that they would release Taliban, some of them really hard-core, particularly five really hard-core Taliban leaders, as a confidence-building measure. Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details."

    That is the full quote tom l

    June 10, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Warren

    Here we go again. instill fear.. That's all the GOP has...

    June 10, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. Malory Archer

    YoonYoungJo

    The last time I heard, aren't there more Americans being held hostage?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Nope, not a single one. Bergdahl was the one and only.

    June 10, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    CALIFORNIA
    Boehner is obviously correct.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And you know this because... ... ...?

    June 10, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Malory Archer

    rs
    Doyle Wiley, MI

    Ok; Boehner what is the cost for holding the detainees indefinitely?
    _____________________
    Good question.
    What about the legality of holding POWs indefinitely?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Without actually charging them with a crime no less!

    June 10, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Malory Archer

    O'drama ya Mama

    " Well, at that time the proposal was that they would release Taliban, some of them really hard-core, particularly five really hard-core Taliban leaders, as a confidence-building measure. Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details."

    That is the full quote tom l

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Dang it Mama, now you've done it! You KNOW you're not supposed to confront the tom i's of the world with facts! What WERE you thinking?!

    June 10, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    "Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details.”
    June 10, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    " Well, at that time the proposal was that they would release Taliban, some of them really hard-core, particularly five really hard-core Taliban leaders, as a confidence-building measure. Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details."

    That is the full quote tom l
    ======================================================
    Thank-you, O'drama ya Mama. Like I said for the start, tom. What McCain is proposing is exactly what took place.

    June 10, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. smith

    @Sonny Chapman- It was liberal hippies throwing dog feces at soliders and calling KIA and POW`s parents saying they deserved what happend to them. That being said, liberals are once again targeting men who served with honor because they are speaking up about Bergdahl going AWOL.

    June 10, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. rs

    Sorry "gang", Mr. McCain got the exact deal he was consulted on- those 5 guys for our one. No changes were made for the deal. Once again, the GOP needed a "controversy" more than America needed a POW back.

    June 10, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. CALIFORNIA

    Malory Archer
    CALIFORNIA
    Boehner is obviously correct.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And you know this because... ... ...?
    --------
    Something you know nothing about, common sense. It's blatantly obvious.

    June 10, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Denise

    Ah yes, the GOP has always had a corner market on patriotism and serving in the military. I wonder if they realize that there are more DEMS in Congress than Republicans who served in the military. Don't let reality get in the way of dittohead lala land.

    June 10, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. PaulCat

    BOEHNER, BOEHNER, BOEHNER
    Get your people together and lets have a hearing on Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs.
    We know you can do it in a New York second.
    Come on Boehner, I dare you!

    June 10, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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