WASHINGTON (AFP) - US lawmakers slammed President Barack Obama on Tuesday for failing to notify Congress before releasing five Taleban operatives from Guantanamo in exchange for an American prisoner of war.
US officials, fearing for the life and health of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who had been held captive for five years, swiftly negotiated for his release in a controversial May swap that fuelled a major political dust-up in Washington, as critics accused Obama of sidestepping Congress.
"The House of Representatives voted 249 to 163 on a non-binding resolution "condemning and disapproving of the Obama administration's failure" to comply with rules requiring a 30-day notification to Congress before releasing detainees from the US naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Twenty-two Democrats joined a unanimous Republican side in voting for the resolution, which also noted the potentially severe national security repercussions of the deal that was brokered by Qatar.
"By negotiating with terrorists, the Obama administration encouraged our enemies," House Speaker John Boehner said shortly after the vote. "By setting free five top Taleban commanders from US custody, the Obama administration made Americans less safe."
Bergdahl, the only US soldier captured by the Taleban since the war began in 2001, disappeared when he left his post at a forward operating base in Afghanistan.