Congress makes bipartisan moves to restrict Obama administration after Taliban 5 swap

posted at 9:31 am on June 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The blowback on the Taliban 5 swap continues on Capitol Hill on two tracks. First, a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee put teeth in the notification law on releases from Gitmo by cutting funding for the Pentagon if the White House breaks the law again. In the Senate, a bill authorizing an investigation into that illegal act will soon hit the floor, The Hill reports this morning:

Congress began taking steps on Tuesday to rein in and investigate President Obama after an outcry over his release of five senior Taliban detainees in exchange for a U.S. soldier captured five years ago.

The House Appropriations Committee, in a bipartisan 33-13 vote, passed language banning the Pentagon from funding detainee transfers from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

And across the Capitol, a group of senators introduced a resolution demanding an investigation into whether the terrorists’ release damaged national security.

That would provide Congress with more of a lever when it comes to Gitmo releases. The White House insists that prisoner swaps fall under the President’s war powers and that legislative authority does not extend into that sphere, which may well be true — but the Obama administration should have challenged that in court before ignoring the law, and arguably should have vetoed a bill that violated the Constitution no matter the inconvenience involved. Congress does have the authority to withhold funds, however, as a check on presidential power. Besides, the point missed by most is that the law required notification and consultation, not approval from Congress — and courts may have considered that a reasonable application of oversight even on the executive branch’s war powers.

The power-of-the-purse approach will be more effective than passing more laws limiting the swaps, although Republicans haven’t given up on that yet:

On Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he would introduce legislation to freeze all prisoner swaps, but beyond issuing blistering statements, it was unclear what action Congress was prepared to take. A House leadership aide noted that members already considered it the law for Obama to inform Congress ahead of time, and it was likely he would dispute further bills that he viewed as infringing on his authority as commander in chief.

The other approach is to keep hauling members of the Obama administration to Capitol Hill to rake them over the coals for their arrogant defiance of the notification law. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will appear in a House Armed Services Committee hearing, and chair Buck McKeon signaled that the focus will be on the five Taliban commanders that just got sprung from prison and their threat to Afghanistan and the US. They will also grill Hagel on one of the supposed reasons publicly offered for the quick execution of the deal, the declining health of Bowe Bergdahl, which turned out to be false:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel goes before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday to answer questions about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and he can expect the questioning to be tough.

The Republican chairman, Buck McKeon of California, told reporters that “we ought to look at the price” — the five Taliban detainees whom the Obama administration released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom.

Outraged Republicans said after a secret administration briefing Monday night that as many as 90 people in government — but no member of Congress — knew about the swap ahead of time. The White House said Tuesday that the figure referred to people who “had access to intelligence related to Taliban activities in Qatar,” the country that facilitated the negotiations for Bergdahl’s release. …

Hagel could be pressed for details about a video the Taliban released in December that administration officials have said raised grave concerns about Bergdahl’s health. The video has not been publicly released.

“It is now obvious that Bergdahl was not in severe ill health,” said retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an NBC News military analyst.

Despite his years in the Senate, Hagel is not particularly adept at testifying in Congress — which he proved in his embarrassing confirmation hearing performance. There will likely be more than a couple of memorable exchanges from today’s testimony, and not memorable for their robust defense of the Obama administration’s actions either.


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Fall guy .

Lucano on June 11, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Do you honestly think any of this will deter the lawless White House? That’s actually laughable.

The President’s most secure legal ground is as Commander in Chief. These types of swaps or any decisions on GITMO will be viewed from that legal perspective.

Which means, look for more creativity from the Oval Office in emptying GITMO onto the streets.

Marcus Traianus on June 11, 2014 at 9:38 AM

But he ignored the law already in place?

Why would he care about another law?

mankai on June 11, 2014 at 9:39 AM

First, a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee put teeth in the notification law on releases from Gitmo by cutting funding for the Pentagon if the White House breaks the law again.

Uh, Obama probably love that. Gutting the Pentagon funding is a wet dream for him. How about cutting funding to the White House itself? Especially since that’s who’s responsible for the swap.

Bitter Clinger on June 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Congressman McKeon: Did it hurt?
Secretary Hagel: Did what hurt?
Congressman McKeon: Did it hurt when the bus ran you over?
Secretary Hagel: I was told there would be donuts here. Wait, this isn’t where I parked my car

.

airupthere on June 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

*would probably

Bitter Clinger on June 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

But he ignored the law already in place?

Why would he care about another law?

mankai on June 11, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Because Eric Holder won’t hesitate to prosecute?

HAHAHAHAHA!!! I crack myself up…

right2bright on June 11, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Chuckie gonna fall on his sword

Good point Ed….notification vs approval

cmsinaz on June 11, 2014 at 9:43 AM

As the posts above ask, does ANYONE think this Administration
gives a rat’s azz what Laws are passed??

To quote Brainfree…..”CHILD, BYE” HAHAHAHAHAHA!

ToddPA on June 11, 2014 at 9:44 AM

First, a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee put teeth in the notification law on releases from Gitmo by cutting funding for the Pentagon if the White House breaks the law again.

Uh, Obama probably love that. Gutting the Pentagon funding is a wet dream for him. How about cutting funding to the White House itself? Especially since that’s who’s responsible for the swap.

Bitter Clinger on June 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Good point. Since Guantanamo supposedly costs us over $2 million per prisoner per year, if the Pentagon budget gets cut by (say) $20 million, Obama might make up the savings by freeing some more of the detainees.

J.S.K. on June 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Meaningless shadow kabuki by the GOPocrats.

M240H on June 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM

We need the Senate in November – badly.

jake-the-goose on June 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Since when do dictators of banana republics need to follow the rule of law?

bimmcorp on June 11, 2014 at 9:53 AM

First, a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee put teeth in the notification law on releases from Gitmo by cutting funding for the Pentagon if the White House breaks the law again.

How about cutting funding for Dear Liar’s vacations if he breaks the law again? Moochelle won’t like that.

rbj on June 11, 2014 at 9:53 AM

“We’re going to pass a law that requires the president to follow the law”. Ha ha, good luck with that. Why don’t you pass a law that requires ALL criminals to follows the law. Eliminate crime forever.

txsurveyor on June 11, 2014 at 9:58 AM

We need the Senate in November – badly.

jake-the-goose on June 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Why? Because then Obama will follow the law?

Bitter Clinger on June 11, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Due to the clear and present danger of the WH enacting amnesty, they should focus on that, as well.

socalcon on June 11, 2014 at 9:59 AM

We need the Senate in November – badly.

jake-the-goose on June 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Why? Because then Obama will follow the law?

Bitter Clinger on June 11, 2014 at 9:59 AM

No, Obama isn’t going to follow the law, but having the Senate means being able to Impeach him and remove him from office. Let’s see how well he is able to flaunt the law from inside a prison cell.

oscarwilde on June 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

No, Obama isn’t going to follow the law, but having the Senate means being able to Impeach him and remove him from office. Let’s see how well he is able to flaunt the law from inside a prison cell.

oscarwilde on June 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Now I know you know that a simple majority isn’t enough to remove him from office.

Bitter Clinger on June 11, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The only funding cut that would make an impression/impact Obama would be one that would curtail his golfing and vacations. Cut the Pentagon? Obama will be laughing all the way to the golf tee.

MissMagnolia on June 11, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I would bet money that Harry Reid will stop anything from happening that might benefit the United States of America if it means curtailing Barry Obama.

COgirl on June 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM

I would bet money that Harry Reid will stop anything from happening that might benefit the United States of America if it means curtailing Barry Obama.

COgirl on June 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Come Nov. Harry Reid won’t be Senate Majority Leader anymore, and won’t be able to do jack squat.

oscarwilde on June 11, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Why weren’t these elected officials paying attention 5 years ago? Never mind. They are as clueless and corrupt as the rest of the DC crowd.

BetseyRoss on June 11, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Investigations, new laws, or elections won’t stop the White House gang. I’m sorry to have to say that.

crankyoldlady on June 11, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Hagel testimony — lies, lies, and more lies.

polarglen on June 11, 2014 at 10:42 AM

“We’re going to pass a law that requires the president to follow the law”. Ha ha, good luck with that. Why don’t you pass a law that requires ALL criminals to follows the law. Eliminate crime forever.

txsurveyor on June 11, 2014 at 9:58 AM

That’s basically it, in a nutshell. And, Barky has learned that there is NOTHING that he might do over the remainder of his term that would get him impeached. Don’t even waste time fantasizing about it.

bofh on June 11, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Despite his years in the Senate, Hagel is not particularly adept at testifying in Congress — which he proved in his embarrassing confirmation hearing performance.

.
Let’s see if he can string two coherent sentences together this time.

ExpressoBold on June 11, 2014 at 10:49 AM

No, Obama isn’t going to follow the law, but having the Senate means being able to Impeach him and remove him from office. Let’s see how well he is able to flaunt the law from inside a prison cell.

oscarwilde on June 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

You forgot the sarc tag, there, my friend. Do you really think that there are more than a half a dozen Congress Critters with the balls to even consider articles of impeachment, let alone file them? Not gonna happen, sir. The only way to remove Dear Leader is by the force of the people. And that won’t happen either, because we’re all just too darn busy chasing our creature comforts and waiting on someone else to bail us out again. The ‘Greatest Generation’…those brave, committed men and women are dying at a break neck pace, and the current issue of American has neither the will nor the cojones to answer the bell.

bimmcorp on June 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM

As others have said, Obama breaks the law every day. He is not scared of Congress. I wouldn’t be either.

PattyJ on June 11, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Obama walks out of Target without paying…. GOP stops him outside and informs him he has broken the law.

O: hey, I just didn’t have time to pay.

GOP: but you’ve broken the law.

O: my friend told me to go ahead, we really wanted this stuff and paying seemed like an unnecessary hassle.

GOP: well, we’re gonna have to teach you a lesson. We’re gonna form a committee to declare, again, that shoplifting is against the law! That’ll teach you! You’re free to go.

mankai on June 11, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Hagel lies with every word.

A traitor dhimmis is Sec. of Defense.

Shame on you, USA.

Your oaf, who’s CiC, is the chief of the Soldiers, pity.

Schadenfreude on June 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Who are these milk toasts that are allowing Hagel to appear as though he and Barack can claim this righteous indignation that anyone would deign to question anything that they did in regards to the Bergahl capitulation? Makes me want to hurl…

bimmcorp on June 11, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Hagel getting grilled and he sounds like a blithering idiot! No exaggeration, a blithering idiot!!!

texgal on June 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM

texgal on June 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Finally, ONE dude grills him…they need to hound the man and get the full measure of his incompetency and lunacy on the record and out in the light of day.

bimmcorp on June 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM

How about we put some restrictions on Obama’s EO’s on amnesty? You know after Cantor’s defeat Obama will act lawless on amnesty.

neyney on June 11, 2014 at 11:36 AM

bimmcorp on June 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Dhimmicrats are coddling him along and giving their own answers to their questions! When he has to actually answer a concrete question, he can’t put together a coherent sentence.

texgal on June 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM

How many more moronic Senators can the Choom Gang appoint to the cabinet?

We may be about to find out.

formwiz on June 11, 2014 at 11:52 AM

….bullshit!

KOOLAID2 on June 11, 2014 at 11:54 AM

It would probably be a lot easier for them to just take away his phone and his pen and the keys to the white house and ban him from the premises than to try and undo the rulings of a mad man.

scalleywag on June 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Er, guys….the Preznit wants to cut funding for the Pentagon — this is like saying “if you break the rules and eat ice cream, we’ll put chocolate syrup on it.”

How ’bout, instead, saying that the White House travel budget will be cut to $0 if any more Guantanamo detainees are released? Or the President’s Secret Service detail will be withdrawn, being that it’s a benefit meant to follow him into retirement? How about cutting the White House chef and issuing the Imperial family EBT cards? Y’know, something that will actually discomfort and embarrass the White House?

cthulhu on June 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Congress makes bipartisan moves to restrict Obama administration after Taliban 5 swap

Ummm…there is a LAW in-place that legally prohibits a U.S. President from making such a swap without notifying Congress 30 days in advance before doing so. Obama even acknowledged the law’s existence when answering a reporter’s question, adding, “I never liked that law.” Ambassador Rice basically came out and said, “We believed the 30-Day requirement was too long, so we ignored it.”

So if an EXISTING LAW doesn’t stop Obama crom violating both the Constitution and Rule of Law, what the H#LL does Congress think it is going to pass that will force Obama to start adhering to the Constitution and law NOW?

easyt65 on June 11, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Uh, Obama probably love that. Gutting the Pentagon funding is a wet dream for him. How about cutting funding to the White House itself? Especially since that’s who’s responsible for the swap.

Bitter Clinger on June 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

When I saw the headline in my e-mail, I wanted to post that!

+1,000,000

When the President is down to eating beaney-wieney,
(or Michelle’s cooking! :D )
and riding Shank’s Mare Limo Service, maybe that will get his attention!

ReggieA on June 11, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Meaningless shadow kabuki by the GOPocrats.
M240H on June 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Right. And if they had done nothing at all? Still “meaningless”? It sounds as though they can’t win with you no matter what they do. It’s a good thing for us you’re not playing on our team.

ricoliv on June 11, 2014 at 2:38 PM