Guest Column

GAO: Obama ignored the law, again

This past June, the Department of Defense (DoD) authorized the release of five dangerous Taliban terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdhal. The Taliban Five were reportedly sent to Qatar, whose government weakly assured they would remain in the country and whose wealthy Sunnis are being suspected of helping finance ISIS. It was a risky trade from the start, and one that shouldn’t have been made hastily. Not only did the Obama Administration enter into negotiations with terrorists, but they knowingly broke the law.

The FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (which the president signed into law himself) stated that there must be at least a 30-days notice of a prisoner release from Guantanamo. President Obama, the DoD, and all others involved failed to give the required 30-day notice to Congress, as well as any notice at all. To top it off, the trade cost almost $1 million taxpayer dollars that were not previously appropriated or authorized by Congress. The DoD scrambled to provide reasons but failed to provide adequate evidence to Congress to legitimize the trade. This caused many of us to question the reasons behind the release of these prisoners, and sparked an investigation into the trade.

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced that after investigating, they came to the decision that the Department of Defense violated the law when they authorized the release. The GAO’s decision confirms what many members of Congress, including myself, have been saying about President Obama all along: if he doesn’t like a law, he doesn’t follow it.

Everyone is required to follow the law, and no one – not even the president – is above it. Laws like these are intended to keep Americans at home and abroad safe from dangerous terrorists. The Taliban Five are senior level terrorists, and they are exactly what we should be defending ourselves from, especially with organizations like ISIS increasing their numbers daily. President Obama has gotten pretty good at asking for forgiveness instead of permission, which is a risky trait in such a powerful position. We need to remind the president he should focus on putting the safety and interests of Americans first, and follow the law of the United States above all else.

(U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., represents Georgia’s Third Congressional District, which includes Coweta County)



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