Tuesday December 1st, 2015 4:20AM

House panel to investigate prisoner swap

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House Armed Services Committee will investigate the Obama administration's swap of an American prisoner held for five years for five Taliban leaders that caused a political firestorm over the lack of congressional notification and fears the high-level Taliban could return to the Afghanistan battlefield. <br /> <br /> ``We ought to look at the price,'' Rep. Howard ``Buck'' McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the panel, told reporters after administration officials held a tense 90-minute, closed-door briefing for House Democrats and Republicans. <br /> <br /> Officials from the White House, State and Defense departments and the intelligence community defended the exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in June 2009 in Afghanistan after he disappeared from his infantry unit, for five Taliban militants from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. <br /> <br /> In the week since the deal, lawmakers have raised questions about whether Bergdahl was a deserter and whether the United States gave up too much for his freedom. Republicans emerged from the Monday night session incensed that 80 to 90 people in the government knew about Bergdahl's release ahead of time and not one member of Congress got a head's up, including leaders of the national security committees. <br /> <br /> Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., criticized the administration for not presenting any classified information. <br /> <br /> The U.S. officials said neither the U.S. nor Qatar provided any money to the Taliban as part of the deal, according to Bachmann. The administration pledged to look into how many American or allied servicemen might have died in efforts to find Bergdahl, she said. <br /> <br /> Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said President Barack Obama is ``not going to get away with this one,'' and described it as an ``arrogant thumbing of his nose by the president of the United States at the Congress of the United States. ... This is going to cost American lives.'' <br /> <br /> Lawmakers said they were shocked to hear Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken say that eight congressional committees had been briefed this past February on the deal. Congressional staffers insist those briefings never occurred. <br /> <br /> Obama has defended the exchange and administration officials have argued that the government needed to move expeditiously due to Bergdahl's health. Officials also have said that any leak of information about the deal could have posed a threat to Bergdahl's life. <br /> <br /> To reinforce its case, administration officials showed the 90-second ``proof of life'' video from December that showed a debilitated Bergdahl. <br /> <br /> Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said Bergdahl looked bad in the video. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Bergdahl looked ``unhealthy but didn't appear to be on his deathbed.'' <br /> <br /> But all the Republican criticism angered Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. <br /> <br /> ``I am so grateful to the people who were up there that we didn't leave someone on the battlefield,'' she told reporters. ``And now, they would demonize this individual and find technical reasons why they're bad that we brought the soldier home?'' <br /> <br /> Beyond securing Bergdahl's release, she said, ``the rest is extraneous.'' The prisoners, she added, were former Afghan government officials who've never been charged with any acts of wrongdoing by the United States. Schakowsky also compared the five-to-one swap favorably with prisoner exchanges by Israel, which has sometimes released more than 1,000 Palestinians to secure the return of one soldier. <br /> <br /> ``I find it absolutely unacceptable that we're hearing these kinds of attacks on this administration for bringing someone home,'' she said. <br /> <br /> Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will testify on Wednesday before the Armed Services Committee. McKeon said additional hearings and briefings are planned as part of the panel's investigation.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 11 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 11 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 10 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 11 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 10 months ago )
Local/State News
White House offers governors info on refugees in their states after Syrian migrants uproar
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is proposing to offer governors individualized reports about refugees in their states.White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says in letters to all 50 governors t...
9:08PM ( 7 hours ago )
Longtime Habersham County Clerk of Court Ernest Nations to be remembered
Longtime former Habersham County Clerk of Court Ernest Nations Jr. died Sunday, Nov. 29, following an extended illness.
3:52PM ( 12 hours ago )
Hall deputies arrest Nov. 21 chase suspect
A Gainesville man wanted for allegedly sideswiping a patrol car on Highway 365 a week ago was arrested over the weekend.
3:06PM ( 13 hours ago )
Man struck by car, killed on Athens Hwy. south of Gainesville
Charges are pending in a weekend accident that killed a pedestrian on Athens Highway.
1:34PM ( 14 hours ago )
Georgia's Mark Richt not done coaching, will listen to anyone interested in giving him a job
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Mark Richt remains interested in another coaching job and said Monday he will listen "to anybody who has interest in me" as he prepares for his final game as Georgia's coach.Georgia...
1:10PM ( 15 hours ago )