Boehner: White House Told Us About bin Laden, Why Not Bergdahl?

The House speaker says the administration never told Congress members that it had decided on a five-to-one trade.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, answers questions during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, May 8, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
National Journal
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Sarah Mimms
June 10, 2014, 7:06 a.m.

House Speak­er John Boehner blas­ted the White House on Tues­day for not in­form­ing con­gres­sion­al lead­ers of the de­cision to swap five Taliban op­er­at­ives for Sgt. Bowe Ber­g­dahl, com­par­ing the lack of in­form­a­tion to the mul­tiple brief­ings he re­ceived be­fore the ad­min­is­tra­tion went after Osama bin Laden.

“Six months be­fore Osama bin Laden was taken down, I was briefed on it. I was briefed mul­tiple times over the course of the six months,” Boehner told re­port­ers Tues­day morn­ing. “I was giv­en a head’s up sev­er­al days be­fore [the 2011 raid]. So this idea that they couldn’t trust us to not leak them is just not true.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has ar­gued that it briefed mem­bers of Con­gress on the pos­sib­il­ity of mak­ing an ex­change for Ber­g­dahl in 2011 and again in 2012. But Boehner said that those con­ver­sa­tions lacked spe­cif­ics. “I was nev­er briefed about a five-to-one swap, nor were there ever any names [giv­en of pos­sible de­tain­ees who would be traded],” Boehner said.

A House Re­pub­lic­an aide later cla­ri­fied that a five-to-one trade had been floated to mem­bers of Con­gress, but not as a defin­it­ive plan. “[The speak­er] was briefed on the pos­sib­il­ity as one of range of meas­ures in an over­all con­fid­ence-build­ing pro­cess — nev­er on this spe­cif­ic one-off trade in and of it­self,” the aide said.