House Passes Ribble, Rigell, Barrow, Rahall Resolution to Hold President Accountable; Condemns Unlawful Transfer of Five Taliban Leaders
Washington, D.C. - In response to the Administration’s failure to comply with federal law, the House of Representatives today condemned the Obama Administration’s unlawful exchange of five senior Taliban leaders and expressed grave concern over the prisoner exchange's national security and foreign policy implications, noting that negotiations with terrorists may further encourage hostilities and the abduction of Americans. H. Res. 644, bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Reid Ribble (WI-08), Scott Rigell (VA-02), John Barrow (GA-12, and Nick Rahall (WV-3) holds the Adminsitration accountable for violating a lawful requirement that Congress be notified at least 30 days before the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The resolution passed in the House 249 to 163 and serves as the official repudiation of the Obama Administration’s actions.
FACTS surrounding the President's unlawful prisoner swap courtesy of the House Armed Services Committee:
FACT: Section 8111 of the FY2014 Defense Appropriations Act was a reinforcement of the FY2014 NDAA
The transfer of the Taliban Five was in violation of Section 1035 of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (FY2014 NDAA) which requires the President to notify Congress not later than 30 days before the transfer or release of any terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay takes place.
FACT: The Constitution gives Congress power over detentions
Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution expressly gives the Congress the authority to "make rules concerning captures on land and water."
FACT: The Administration could have notified Congress but chose not to
The Administration had ample opportunity to notify Congress of the transfer while remaining in compliance with the law and preserving operational security. The Secretary of Defense testified that negotiations to transfer these five Taliban detainees had been ongoing for months and the Administration made a conscious decision not to consult Congress.
FACT: The violation of the 30-day notice requirement has significant consequences
The violation prevented Congress from fulfilling its vital oversight duties on national security matters. Congress was not given an opportunity to assess the risks to U.S. national security presented by the transfer, the security assurances from Qatar before the transfer took place, or the credibility of the negotiating process.
FACT: The Administration Negotiated With Terrorists in Connection With the Taliban Five Exchange
Negotiations through intermediaries are still negotiations with terrorists. In this case, the United States negotiated through intermediaries in Qatar. Both the Haqqani Network and the Taliban are designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. Violation of the 30 day notice law prevented Congress from evaluating the negotiation process and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists.
FACT: The Taliban Five Detainees Pose a Risk to America’s Security
These Taliban leaders have had associations with al-Qaeda or have engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, and have previously been determined to be too dangerous to transfer.
FACT: There is a Clear Danger that the Taliban Five Will Re-enter the Fight Against the U.S. or our Afghan Allies.
The Taliban Five will be free to leave Qatar in less than a year. By the President’s own admission, there is “absolutely” the “possibility” that these detainees would try to return to the fight. Other transferred GTMO detainees have become leaders of al Qaeda associated groups actively planning attacks against America and our allies.