As I mentioned when the news first broke, the swap between Bowe Bergdahl and the five Taliban leaders was illegal. The executive branch was supposed to give notification to Congress according to duly passed legislation. The Administration made the deal with the Taliban without giving that notification—just as Barack Obama indicated he would do when he appended a “signing statement” as he signed the legislation.
Yesterday I saw this news story:
The Obama administration has told senators it didn’t notify Congress about the pending swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials because the Taliban had threatened to kill him if the deal was made public before it happened. […] The officials said today that the threat—not just concerns that the captive’s health might be failing—drove the Obama administration to quickly make a deal to rescue Bergdahl.
The threat had been transmitted by Qatari officials at the height of the negotiations. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was referring in part to the threat when he said Sunday that “there was a question about his safety,” the officials told the senators in a closed-door briefing yesterday.
Really? Then why wasn’t that detail mentioned earlier? The statement by Hagel could refer to almost anything. Was he being coy about the death threat? Or was he making a vague excuse that gave others the idea of a story to tell that would justify breaking the law?
I have no way of proving the truth of the matter either way. But the story seems completely phony to me. If it is a falsehood, then that means the Administration is genuinely worried about the legal implications of what they have done. They actually think that Congress might act.
Dare we hope that is the case? Despite suspecting that the Administration is lying, the idea that the White House fears impeachment seems too good to be true.
I’m not sure what to think.
I have seen more affirmations that the President was operating within his Constitutional powers by exchanging the prisoners. Many Republicans will want to support this idea because it has become our custom. But it is an unconstitutional custom! The Constitution could not be more clear: Congress is given the authority, “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” There is no way it can be declared Constitutional for the Chief Executive to ignore Congress’ rules and make up its own. That is called breaking the law.
PostScript: As I was getting ready to post this entry I saw this story at FoxNews.com:
According to the AP, the administration is now claiming that the threat on Bergdahl’s life drove the administration to quickly make the deal to rescue him.
But one senior source told Fox News that this claim is “ridiculous,” since “notifying Congress does not make it public.”
A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee added: “This is BS.”
Congressional sources argue that leaders of the congressional intelligence committees — who were kept in the dark here — were able to keep the secret when they were told “months in advance” about plans to go after Usama bin Laden.
Sources tell Fox News such lawmakers are “regularly trusted with sensitive information that is not made public.”