WASHINGTON — Top members of Congress were briefed more than two years ago about the possibility of exchanging an American soldier held captive by the Taliban for five terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday.
In a statement, Boehner said lawmakers raised serious concerns that were never satisfactorily answered about the potential swap involving Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and received assurances from the Obama administration that if a deal were more likely, Congress would be contacted.
Lawmakers weren’t informed until word came this past Saturday of the exchange.
“There was every expectation that the administration would re-engage with Congress, as it did before, and the only reason it did not is because the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition,” Boehner said.
Boehner welcomed Bergdahl’s release but said one of the greatest protections for Americans fighting overseas as well as diplomats is that the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists.
“One of their greatest protections - knowing that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists - has been compromised,” Boehner said.
The Ohio Republican said he supports efforts to hold hearings on the administration’s failure to consult with Congress.
Earlier Tuesday, President Barack Obama said his administration had consulted with Congress “for some time” about the possibility of a swap.