GAO: Obama administration violated law in releasing Gitmo detainees to Qatar in Bergdahl deal

The Government Accounting Office has concluded that the Obama Defense Department violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act when it transferred five detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Qatar without providing at least 30 days notice to certain congressional committees. Section 8111 prohibits the Defense Department from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Gitmo unless the Secretary of Defense provides such notification.

The GAO also found that, by using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act, as well.

The prisoner transfer occurred in May of this year as part of the deal in which the Taliban released Bowe Bergdahl. Naturally, the Defense Department used congressionally appropriated funds to effectuate the transfer.

In doing so, says the GAO, it violated the unambiguous terms of section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Section 8111 prohibits the use of “funds appropriated or otherwise made available” in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014, to transfer any individual detained at Guantanamo Bay to the custody or control of a foreign entity “except in accordance with section 1035 of the [FY 2014 NDAA].”

Section 1035 unambiguously requires the Secretary of Defense to notify certain congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of such a transfer. This the Obama administration did not do.

Here we have yet another example of Obama’s disregard for the law.

It should also be noted that Qatar, the government to which he transferred the Gitmo detainees, is a supporter of terrorist groups. For example, it is a major backer of Hamas whose leader-in-exile, Khaled Mashaal, lives in Qatar.

Qatar has also credibly been accused of funding ISIS (now the Islamic State), although this matter appears to be in dispute. You can’t help but wonder whether some of the five transferred prisoners will eventually join other Gitmo alums in ISIS’s jihad.

Thus, it’s easy to understand why Congress would have been interested in knowing about the transfer in advance, and why Obama violated the law that required him to provide that heads-up.