House Speaker John Boehner amped up his criticism Tuesday of the Obama administration on its prisoner swap involving U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, saying the U.S. would “pay” for its decision to release five Taliban-affiliated prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Speaking for the first time to reporters about the Obama administration’s decision, Boehner said the swap had made the U.S. “less safe” — and that “lost lives” would come from the decision.
“We’re glad that Bergdahl is back, but the biggest issue here is the violation of the policy that the United States has had for many, many years that we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Boehner told reporters at a press conference Tuesday morning.
“The fact is that we have violated that policy and, as a result, we have made Americans less safe here and all around the world. And we’re going to pay for this. There is not any doubt in my mind that there are going to be costs — of lost lives — associated with what came out of this.”
Boehner had ripped the Obama administration in a statement last week, accusing President Barack Obama of deliberately keeping the swap secret because he knew he faced staunch opposition from Congress. Boehner said Congress was told about the possibility of the exchange more than two years ago, but the administration never proceeded to follow up.
Lawmakers have not let up in their criticism. A closed-door briefing between White House officials and House Republicans only served to incense the House GOP further, as they came out of the meeting furious that as many as 90 members of the administration had learned about the swap before them.
Boehner’s heavy criticism is significant — he typically holds back on matters of national security and intelligence. Boehner was particularly dumbfounded by the administration’s excuse of keeping Congress in the dark because it said it feared for Bergdahl’s life if information about the negotiations leaked — considering he and other members of Congress were briefed about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
“This idea that they couldn’t trust us to not leak things is just not true,” Boehner said.
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