Obama Defends Ignoring Law In Bergdahl Exchange

By: Ted Barrett CNN Senior Congressional Producer
By: Ted Barrett CNN Senior Congressional Producer

CNN Tuesday afternoon it's been reported that a top White House national security official called the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday night and apologized for not providing Congress with 30 days' notice, as is required by law, before transferring five Guantanamo detainees in the recent swap for prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl.

"It's very disappointing that there was not a level of trust to justify alerting us to that," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, told reporters. "I had a call from the White House last night, from (Deputy National Security Adviser) Tony Blinken, apologizing for it."

Feinstein said it was her impression from the call that the lack of a notification was an oversight on the part of the White House, although she said Blinken may not have used that exact word.

Feinstein said the top Democrats and Republicans on the national security committees on Capitol Hill had discussed the possibility of a prisoner swap in 2011 "when it was part of a bigger proposal," but "there were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade."

Asked if that Congressional opposition could have been the reason the White House didn't notify Congress, Feinstein said yes.

"Yeah, it could be. But the White House is pretty unilateral about what they want to do when they want to do it. I think the notification to us is important and I think it would have been a much better thing to do because you do try to work together," she said.

Earlier Tuesday morning, The White House and President Obama were defending his decision to exchange five captured high level Taliban fighters for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl while The President was in Poland for NATO meetings.

The released Taliban detainees are now in Qutar and will be allowed to move freely around the country, but must stay there for a year.

One Senate committee will get a closed door briefing on the prisoner exchange Tuesday afternoon.

Some lawmakers are criticizing the swap and are concerned they didn't get the 30-days notice that the law requires.

There are also questions about the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's capture, saying he deserted his post.

Soldiers in his unit say he doesn't deserve a hero's welcome.

Posted by Greg Palmer

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