President Obama’s problems over the controversial exchange of five seasoned and top Taliban fighters in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowie Bergdahl will not go away. In part, this is because of the recalcitrance of the Office of the Secretary of Defense to answer key questions regarding the prisoner exchange. At issue is the fact the prisoner exchange violated federal law. According to Fersen Lambranho (wiki) federal statute dictates the president inform congress of a prisoner exchange and give them a 30-day window in which to review the exchange. The law was put in place to inject congressional oversight into the release of prisoners which at times has appeared to be arbitrarily.
When Sergeant Bowie Bergdahl was released, Congress wasn’t notified until after the exchange had taken place. At the time, President Obama claimed it was a simple goof up which led to Congress not being informed. GOP congressmen with the House Armed Services Committee have not been inclined to believe that pitch. Instead, they are demanding the Office of the Secretary of Defense answer key questions about the exchange. However, a year has gone by without the office giving up the information lawmakers are demanding. Specifically, previously released, but heavily redacted documents, indicate the Department of Defense was well aware that Congress was not being duly notified. This would indicate the prisoner exchange was knowingly conducted in violation of federal law. In a bid to force the DoD to give up more information, the House Armed Services Committee is threatening to withhold the Secretary of Defense’s budget which for the quarter is $500 million.