The Government Accountability Office (G.A.O.) has said the Obama administration violated the law in the prisoner exchange that freed Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
In a report sent to Republican Senators on Thursday, the G.A.O. said that the Department of Defense failed to notify Congress at least 30 days prior to the release of five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The G.A.O., a government watchdogthat issues reports at the request of Congress, also concluded that the D.O.D. violated the Antideficiency Act when it authorized the payment of nearly $1 million to transfer the detainees from Guantanamo to Qatar.
"We conclude that DOD violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer. In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act," the report said.
At the time, the Obama administration said they did not notify Congress because they were worried that any leaked details could compromise Bergdahl's safety. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously endorsed the prisoner exchange in a joint letter sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin in June.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) took a different tone in statement to Fox News on Thursday.
"We have all seen the President decide to override the concept of checks and balances in many questionable executive actions, but the GAO opinion confirms that by doing so in connection with the release of Bowe Bergdahl, he engaged in a clear violation of the law,” Murkowski said.
While what happens next is up in the air, it seems that the G.A.O. report is already riling up to the Republican base.
Sergeant Bergdahl is working a desk job at Fort Sam Houston in Texas while he awaits the results of an Army investigation into his 2009 disappearance.