By Kristina Wong - 08/22/14 12:36 PM EDT
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday that a government watchdog report on the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl confirmed the Obama administration's "stubborn and dangerous" disregard for the rule of law.
“Yesterday, the nonpartisan, independent Government Accountability Office [GAO] confirmed what everyone capable of reading the English language already knew: the White House ignored the law when it released five dangerous Taliban prisoners without proper Congressional notification," Boehner said in a statement.
The Pentagon spent $988,400 in conducting the release of the five senior-level Taliban commanders from the Guantánamo Bay detainee facility in May, according to the GAO report.
Boehner also seized on the report's conclusion to criticize the administration's judgment at a time when the U.S. is "grappling with the evil terror of the self-proclaimed 'Islamic State' in Syria and Iraq — a group whose leader was once an American detainee, before being released."
He said the report proves the trade was "yet another reminder" of the White House's habit of "simply ignoring laws it finds inconvenient."
The administration responded to the GAO report on Thursday, maintaining that its actions were legal.
"As Secretary Hagel has testified before Congress, the recovery of Sgt. Bergdahl was conducted lawfully. This decision was made after consultation with the Department of Justice," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.
"The Administration had a fleeting opportunity to protect the life of a U.S. service member held captive and in danger for almost five years. Under these exceptional circumstances, the Administration determined that it was necessary and appropriate to forego 30 days' notice of the transfer in order to obtain Sgt. Bergdahl's safe return," he said.