WH Alerted Harry Reid About Prisoner Swap; Apologizes for Not Telling Others
(CNSNews.com) - The Obama White House told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about the prisoner exchange -- Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl swapped for five hardcore Taliban terrorists -- before it happened, but Reid may be the only one who was told in advance.
"I got a call from the White House on Friday," Reid told reporters on Tuesday. President Obama announced the prisoner exchange on Saturday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, was not told about the exchange beforehand. She called it "very disappointing that there was not a level of trust sufficient to justify alerting us."
Feinstein and ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) both said they had received apology calls from the White House on Monday:
Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken called Feinstein: "He apologized for it and said it was an oversight," Feinstein told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday, The Hill reported.
Likewise, Sen. Chambliss (R-Ga.) said he got a phone call Monday night "apologizing for not giving us advance warning of it."
Chambliss said the call wasn't from Blinken, but it was from a "high-level White House individual."
"It had just been called to their attention that I had not received advance notification of this transaction taking place," Chambliss said at the Capitol on Tuesday. "[Y]ou can't undo what the president has done, so -- they said, we'll give it to you next time."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner said they, too, were notified on Saturday, after the exchange had taken place.
A 2013 law requires the president to notify Congress 30 days before releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
In remarks to reporters on Tuesday, Feinstein said she wants more information on the circumstances under which Bowe Bergdahl left his post in Afghanistan, and she also wants to know more about the U.S. deal with Qatar to hold the five released terrorists for one year.
Harry Reid said he's glad to get rid of the five Taliban terrorists -- "send them back to Qatar, and I think the arrangements made there are, as far as I understand, what's been explained to me, adequate."