Rubio on Freeing Taliban from Gitmo: ‘No Question President Violated the Law’

June 5, 2014 - 3:33 PM

Immigration Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) --  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said there is “no question” that President Obama broke U.S. law by not notifying Congress at least 30 days before releasing five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan until his release last week.

Following a closed Senate briefing on the Bergdahl/Taliban prisoner exchange on Wednesday, CNSNews.com asked Sen. Rubio, “Do you believe the president violated the law when he did not give Congress 30 days’ notice of this?”

Rubio said, “In my opinion, there’s no question that the president violated the law by not notifying Congress.”

“But to me, the most pressing challenge that we face is the fact that the president has now released five of the most dangerous individuals in Guantanamo, if not the five most dangerous,” he added. “They will soon return to the fight against America and our interests around the world, and we have now created an incentive for the enemies of the United States to try to capture American men and women in uniform in an effort to exchange them.”

According to the National Defense Authorization Act enacted in 2013, the Secretary of Defense is required to give Congress at least 30 days’ notice before transferring any detainee from Guantanamo Bay to a foreign nation or entity.

The law also outlines certain requirements that must be met to ensure the individual cannot re-engage in terrorist activity that threatens the United States or its interests upon release.

Poland US Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the 25th anniversary celebrations of Poland's first free elections led by the Solidarity movement at the Royal Square in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

During a press conference in Poland on Tuesday, President Obama defended his decision to release five Taliban leaders in exchange for Bergdahl, saying the administration "had consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange.”

But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have criticized the president for not giving Congress the 30-day notice required by law, saying they were not informed of the exchange until a day – or even mere hours – beforehand.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.) said the administration called her to apologize for not giving her and other members of Congress advanced notice of the swap, according to The Hill newspaper.

“I had a call from the White House last night, from Tony Blinken, apologizing for it,” Feinstein said, according to the newspaper. “He apologized and said it was an oversight.”