WASHINGTON, D.C.–The highest-ranking Republican member on the Senate Intelligence Committee said he also received an apology from the White House Monday evening for not keeping Congress in the loop about the prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl.
According to Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss the official said that the lack of notification “had just been called to their attention.”
“I got a phone call last night apologizing for not giving us advanced warning,” Chambliss told reporters Tuesday, saying the call was from a high level White House official, but not Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken who Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) earlier in the day said apologized to her.
“They said it had just been called to their attention that I had not received advanced notification of this transaction,” he said.
When asked if the administration official admitted to any wrongdoing by not informing Congress, Chambliss said, “You can’t undo what the president has done, so they said, ‘we’ll give it to you next time.'”
The Georgia Republican said he had not had a conversation about Bergdahl with the White House prior to the release in about about the matter in a year and a half.
“If that’s keeping us in the loop, then you know this administration is more arrogant than I thought,” he said, of the administration’s claim that the Congress was kept informed.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that he was only informed of the release on Saturday. For his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the White House informed him of the releases on Friday, a day before the prisoner swap.
“My own personal opinion Guantanamo has been there far too long, and I think we should get them out of there as quickly as we can. We’ve been held up from doing it by the Republicans not wanting any of them to be tried here in the United States,” he said, going on to add that he is “glad to get rid of these five people, send them back.”
Reid noted that he was told that the administration did not break the law by failing to inform Congress 30 days ahead of time. Reid did not specify who told him that it was not a violation of the law.
Chambliss added that he intends to call on Obama to be more transparent about the detainees they released and explain to the American people the reasons for it.
“The president needs to look the American people in the eye and explain to the American people why he was justified in releasing the five individuals and why their backgrounds didn’t demand and mandate they be defined at Guantanamo for an indefinite period of time,” The Georgia lawmaker said announcing that he plans to send a letter to the president this afternoon demanding the administration declassify the files on the detainees they released.