The Obama administration broke the law earlier this year by secretly ordering the swap of five Guantanamo Bay detainees in return for American prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The report, released Thursday, faulted the Department of Defense for transferring the five detainees to Qatar without giving a heads up to congressional committees 30 days in advance, as required by the law. Citing the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, the GAO said in a summary that, “Section 8111 prohibits DOD from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay unless the secretary of defense notifies certain congressional committees at least 30 days before the transfer.”
It also said the Pentagon violated the Antideficiency Act by spending money on this swap in a “manner specifically prohibited by law.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office bills itself as an “independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress.” Bergdahl’s release in May sparked outrage in the United States after more was learned about the terms of his release and the circumstances of his disappearance while serving in Afghanistan.
On May 31, Obama announced the deal in a Rose Garden press conference with Bergdahl’s parents at his side. “We’ve worked for several years to achieve this goal, and earlier this week I was able to personally thank the emir of Qatar for his leadership in helping us get it done,” Obama said. “As part of this effort, the United States is transferring five detainees from the prison in Guantanamo Bay to Qatar. The Qatari government has given us assurances that it will put in place measures to protect our national security.”