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House Speaker John Boehner calls for hearings over Bowe Bergdahl release

By Reuters
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 14:45 EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner backed calls on Tuesday for congressional hearings on the decision to swap five Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo detention center for captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

Boehner, a Republican, described how President Barack Obama’s administration had consulted with Congress more than two years ago about the possibility of such an operation. He said congressional leaders had expressed serious concerns about the plans, which were never satisfactorily answered.

“The administration has invited serious questions into how this exchange went down and the calculations the White House and relevant agencies made in moving forward without consulting Congress despite assurances it would re-engage with members on both sides of the aisle,” Boehner said in a statement.

Boehner said he joined all Americans in welcoming Bergdahl home, but signaled there will likely be a series of hearings at least in the Republican-led House looking into the circumstances of his release.

“It is important we get clarity in the days and weeks ahead,” Boehner said, not only on the Bergdahl exchange but on related issues including steps Obama has taken to guarantee the prisoner swap would not inspire the capture of more Americans.

Under U.S. law, the president is required to give Congress 30 days’ notice and fulfill other disclosure conditions before releasing prisoners from Guantanamo. This was not done in Bergdahl’s case. The White House said it did not inform Congress earlier because it was concerned about security.

A Republican congressional aide said the first call informing Boehner of the prisoner exchange deal came shortly before noon on Saturday, just as the administration released news of Bergdahl’s release.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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