Rice fires back on Bergdahl criticism
U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice pushed back on Sunday against GOP claims that the administration negotiated with terrorists by transferring five Taliban prisoners in Guantánamo Bay to Qatar in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Rice said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked if the exchange means U.S. officials could no longer say they don’t negotiate with terrorists.
“Why didn’t you notify Congress?” Crowley asked, referencing the law that requires the president to alert Congress in 30 days before transferring any prisoners from Guantánamo Bay.
Rice said that Bergdahl’s health was “growing more fragile,” and “we were very concerned that time was not something that we could play with.”
“The Department of Defense consulted with the Department of Justice and, given the acute urgency of the health condition of Sgt. Bergdahl and given the president’s Constitutional responsibilities, it was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirements because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sgt. Bergdahl would have been lost,” Rice said.
Rice said the administration had previously notified members of Congress about the potential for such an exchange.
“We had briefed Congress in the past about this potential,” Rice said.
“In the past,” Crowley interrupted, “but when you knew that you were going [to act]?”
“When the deal was done and Sgt. Bergdahl was in U.S. custody was when we began making notifications to Congress.”
“But the deal had already been made and the prisoners from Guantánamo Bay were already en route to the plane to go to Qatar?” Crowley asked.
“No, actually Congress began to be notified when Sgt. Bergdahl was in American hands, which was actually before the prisoners had left,” Rice said.
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