Both Democrats and Republicans have rejected an excuse offered by the White House for why they were unable to inform Congress of the Bergdahl prisoner swap. The White House has offered several excuses for why it failed to notify Congress 30 days in advance as required by law.
In a briefing for Senators Wednesday, the White House claimed Bergdahl’s life was in danger if word of the swap leaked to the media. The AP was first to publish word of the threat to Bergdahl’s life on Thursday. Their initial story was only a few paragraphs and attributed the claim to three unnamed “congressional officials.”
Senator’s who were there have since come forward to contest the White House claim. When asked about the threat, Democratic Senator Feinstein told Bloomberg, “No, I don’t think there was a credible threat, but I don’t know. I have no information that there was.”
Republican Senator Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also rejected the AP report telling NBC News, “I never heard that.” He added, “That flies in the face of everything that we know about the value thatpeople like the Taliban place on having prisoners. And to me, from what Iknow, threatening to kill them is a very unlikely scenario.”
Similarly, Republican Sen. Inhofe told NBC News the claim was “absurd.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gave the AP a rundown of the litany of excuses offered by the White House, “First, we had to do the prisoner dealbecause he was in imminent danger of dying. Well, they saw the video inJanuary and they didn’t act until June. So that holds no water. Now theargument is the reason they couldn’t tell us is because it jeopardizedhis life. I don’t buy that for a moment because he was a very valuableasset to the Taliban.“
In contrast, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) told the AP, “We were briefed that if these discussions had leaked out, there was a reasonable chance Bowe Bergdahl may have been killed.”
Since the AP story broke yesterday as a brief piece attributed to unnamed officials, it has been expanded and rewritten. The current version of the story reads, “There was no overt threat but rather anassessment based on intelligence reports that Bergdahl’s life would bein jeopardy if news of the exchange got out and the deal failed, twosenior U.S. officials familiar with efforts to free the soldier saidThursday.” Details of that assessment have apparently not been released.
As Breitbart News reported yesterday, the most recent offer to swap Bergdahl for 5 Taliban leaders at Gitmo was made by a Taliban spokesman during an interview with a reporter for the AP last year. After word of the offer was published by the AP the Obama administration was said to respond positively. The outlines of a possible deal for Bergdahl were first discussed in 2011 and were published by multiple news sources in 2012.