UK & World News

  • 21 August 2014, 22:27

Bergdahl Prisoner Swap: Pentagon 'Broke Law'

The Pentagon's exchange of prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders was illegal, a nonpartisan US congressional watchdog has said.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the Department of Defense should have notified the relevant Capitol Hill committees at least 30 days in advance.

The investigators also found the Pentagon broke another law in using nearly $1m of funds that were not technically available to make the transfer.

The GAO wrote to nine Republican senators that the law in the case was "clear and unambiguous".

The congressional investigators noted that the relevant committees only began receiving phone calls on the day of the exchange, May 31, with written notification two days later.

There was no immediate comment from the Pentagon on the GAO findings.

Republican lawmakers led criticism of the White House for failing to notify them about the deal, which saw five Taliban leaders freed from the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

The Obama administration has defended its decision not to advise Congress of the plans, citing concern about the US soldier's health and safety.

Sgt Bergdahl, who has been accused of desertion, is on desk duty at Fort Sam Houston in Texas while an investigation is conducted into how he came to be captured by the Taliban in 2009.

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