About time: House of Representatives condemns Barack Obama’s Taliban prisoner swap

The House of Representatives slammed President Barack Obama early Tuesday evening with the passage of a resolution “[c]ondemning and disapproving” of his administration’s failure to notify Congress of the release prisoners as required by law — in this case, five Taliban leaders — from the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

The measure passed largely along party lines in a 249-163 vote, but 22 Democrats broke ranks to rebuke the president, with just two months to go before the midterm elections.

The executive branch is required by the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act to notify Congress at least 30 days before transferring prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. A Government Accountability Office report found last month that the administration violated the law by not adhering to the requirement.
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The resolution further states that the exchange hurt the administration’s relationships with lawmakers. The text says that “these actions have burdened unnecessarily the trust and confidence in the commitment and ability of the Obama administration to constructively engage and work with Congress.”

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), the resolution’s sponsor, said it would affirm the checks and balances outlined in the Constitution.

Not only did the Obama administration fail to notify Congress as required by law, part of a pattern of his lawlessness, the five Taliban leaders are, basically, the worst of the worst that were being held at Gitmo. Two of them — Mohammad Fazl and Norullah Noori — are wanted by the United Nations for war crimes. While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says they “are not a threat,” all five were labeled as “high risk,” meaning that they’re “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”

Of course, President Obama says that his administration will “be keeping eyes on them” while they’re in Qatar, where they’ll be held for a year. Well, that’s comforting, considering that this administration downplayed the threat of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and, seemingly, missed its violent rise.

The resolution doesn’t really have much effect or force. It does, however, push the media to cover President Obama’s disregard of the law, which is exactly what House Republicans want. The unfortunate part of this are the circumstances. There are no guarantees that these five Taliban officials aren’t going to resume their previous activity and, quite possibly, put the already shaky foundation of Afghanistan at risk.


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