GAO report concludes U.S-Taliban prisoner swap was unlawful

The Obama administration acted unlawfully when it released five Taliban fighters from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for an American soldier held captive by the Taliban, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

The report concluded that the secretary of defense was required to notify the appropriate congressional committees at least 30 days before the release of individuals held at Guantanamo Bay under the National Defense Authorization Act.

“This GAO report confirms my belief that the administration violated the law when it released and transferred these dangerous Taliban detainees without notifying Congress as the law clearly and unequivocally requires,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said. “It is highly likely that these men will return to the fight against our country after their year in Qatar. That is the assessment of the administration’s own intelligence experts.”

Collins said that it was “extremely troubling” that the president ignored the notification requirement despite bipartisan opposition to the swap.

“The administration’s argument that it couldn’t inform congressional leaders of the swap because it might have compromised the transfer was completely disingenuous,” Collins said. “Dozens of administration officials knew about the swap well in advance. It simply doesn’t make sense that members of Congress, particularly the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were not informed. It’s not hard to imagine that the president didn’t notify us until after the fact because he knew the proposed transfer would have been met with opposition.”

Collins said the president’s decision continued a “disturbing pattern” of him unilaterally deciding that he does not have to comply with provisions of laws with which he does not agree.