01:15 GMT02 December 2020
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    Republican lawmakers accused President Barack Obama of misleading Congress and violating federal law during the exchange of five Guantanamo Bay inmates for a US Army soldier accused of desertion.

    In a report released on Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee found that the Obama administration "clearly broke the law" by failing to notify Congress of the transfer of the prisoners from the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    The report also suggested that the administration put politics ahead of procedure and facilitated the exchange as part of Obama's longstanding plan to close the controversial prison. Many Republicans strongly oppose the plan.

    US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009, from a US outpost in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. He was freed in 2014 in a prisoner swap that sent five Taliban prisoners who were being held at Guantanamo to Qatar.

    Earlier this year Bergdahl was charged with desertion.

    Dissenting Democrats on the Armed Services Committee criticized the Republican-authored report, calling it "a weighted and politically motivated document that makes no serious effort to fairly assess the Administration's perspective."

    U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, free by the Taliban in a prisoner swap deal.
    © AP Photo / US Army
    U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, free by the Taliban in a prisoner swap deal.

    The Obama administration has argued that it bypassed a mandated 30-day congressional notification period out of fear for Bergdahl's life, and that it had constitutional authority to do so.

    The freed detainees were among 48 prisoners that a panel commissioned by the Obama administration determined should not leave US custody. The House report maintains that releasing them in order to free a US prisoner of war was one of the best chances the Obama administration could have to release those detainees.

    "The effort to transfer the Taliban Five was not merely a mechanism to recover a captive US servicemen," the report reads. "Doing so allowed the Administration to rid itself of five of the most dangerous and problematic detainees."

    Obama campaigned on a pledge to close the prison, but has yet to send Congress a long-promised plan to close the facility. It appears unlikely he will be able to close the prison before he leaves office in 2017.

    desertion, prisoner exchange, House Armed Services Committee, Taliban, Bowe Bergdahl, Barack Obama, Afghanistan, US, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
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