Boehner: Americans could die because of Bergdahl swap


by Deirdre Walsh


Posted on June 10, 2014 at 5:15 PM

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.

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