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White House on defensive on prisoner swap
Arriving in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday on the first leg of a four-day European trip, Obama found himself on the defensive over whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deserved special efforts to bring him home. “The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule, and that is, we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind.”
Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, traveled to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to calm Democrats at their weekly caucus lunch a day after, saying that “we didn’t have 30 days” to inform Congress about the negotiations with the Taliban. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she had received a call from Antony Blinken, the deputy national security adviser, on Monday night apologizing for the failure to notify Congress. The ranking Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, said he had received a similar apology Monday night.
The White House’s problem has its roots in a federal statute that requires the secretary of defense, before transferring a detainee from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to notify Congress 30 days beforehand. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel provided that notice only as the transfer was already taking place.
The New York Times
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