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Senior Democrat: If It Was Wrong When Bush Did It, It Was Wrong When Obama Did It

June 11, 2014 (EIRNS)—The senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee charged today that Obama violated the law in not notifying Congress of the prisoner exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo.

"The law is the law," Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) told Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in this morning' hearing, and "there was no reason that that 30-day notice couldn't have been given to the leadership of Congress" about the prisoner exchange.

Following are Rep. Smith' comments:

"I think it is wrong that months before—well, it' wrong that when you knew that you were thinking about doing this deal, you didn't take the top leadership in Congress and talk about it.

"Now, I know the concern. The concern was that it would have been leaked. But as has been mentioned, Congress has been trusted with many, many other things, including the location of Osama bin Laden, and not leaked it. I think that type of consultation would have helped the process, not hurt it.

"And the second piece that I'm concerned about is the 30-day requirement. Now, I know the president put out a signing statement when he signed the law that had that 30-day requirement in it, saying that he was concerned about the constitutionality about it. But the law is the law. The way you challenge constitutionality is you go to court and you figure out whether or not the courts say it' constitutional or not. And until the courts rule on that, it is the law.

"When President Bush was in the White House, he had, gosh, hundreds of signing statements. And there was, I believe, a correct amount of outrage amongst many that those signing statements were put out there as a way to simply avoid the law. If it wasn't right for President Bush to do it, it' not right for President Obama to do it. So I would be very curious to understand the argument for why that 30-day requirement wasn't in place. And again, I'll come back to the fact that there was no reason that that 30-day notice couldn't have been given to the leadership of Congress. We can in fact keep a secret, or I would say, we're no worse at it than the administration, if you go back through history in terms of how things get out. So I think better consultation with Congress is something we will definitely need going forward."