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Bergdahl swap: Federal agency says Obama administration are lawbreakers

The Obama administration violated U.S. law when it secretly exchanged five Guantanamo Bay imprisoned terrorists for a U.S. Army soldier -- who was captured by the Taliban after allegedly deserting his post -- and the violation is punishable by jail time, suspension and removal from office, according to a report from an Inside the Beltway watchdog group on Friday.

Many Americans were shocked to learn the Bergdahl swap was just one big photo op for an unpopular President Obama.
Many Americans were shocked to learn the Bergdahl swap was just one big photo op for an unpopular President Obama.
Collage courtesy of Police Times/AFP

Judicial Watch obtained a copy of a government investigation summary that reveals the U.S. Department of Defense violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 when its officials traded five terrorists being detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the release of a U.S. prisoner of war being held by members of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to a Examiner news report on the prisoner swap, the five terrorists were turned over to the nation of Qatar -- a nation considered by counterterrorism experts to be highly suspect -- without giving notice to members of certain congressional oversight committees. What Section 8111 prohibits is the Defense Department "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." Because officials at the DOD used its appropriations to break the law, in addition to violating a provision of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, officials also violated the Anti-Deficiency Act.

The investigative arm of the House of Representatives , Government Accountability Office (GAO), accused President Obama, acting in his capacity as Commander in Chief, of breaking a "clear and unambiguous" law when he authorized the swapping of five high-level terrorists for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is accused of deserting his guard post and going AWOL in Afghanistan in 2009.

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the GAO described a violation that is a serious breach of federal law which may have severe consequences for the perpetrator or perpetrators. Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, administrative discipline, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office, the rules specifically state.

"Congress must be notified before acts of this magnitude are committed and the president completely disregarded the legislative branch. In fact the Department of Defense (DOD) failed to notify Congress at least 30 days in advance of the exchange, a flagrant violation of the law, and misused nearly $1 million of a wartime account to make the transfer," the GAO report says.

“They held positions of great importance within the hard-core anti-American Taliban, including the Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence. They have American blood on their hands and surely as night follows day they will return to the fight. In effect, we released the 'Taliban Dream Team.' The United States is less safe because of these actions,” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Judicial Watch officials stated:.

"In a nutshell, Obama and his appointees flipped the finger at Congress, the American public and the rule of law. We’ve seen this many times during this president’s two terms and will likely see it over and over again before he moves out of the White House. In this case, the commander-in-chief ardently defends his decision to blow off Congress by asserting that Bergdahl’s ailing health and safety required fast action. The administration claims that providing Congress with notice “would have interfered with the Executive’s performance of two related functions that the Constitution assigns to the President: protecting the lives of Americans abroad and protecting U.S. service members.”