Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

113th Congress  }                                           {    Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session     }                                           {   113-569

======================================================================
 
 CONDEMNING AND DISAPPROVING OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S FAILURE TO 
COMPLY WITH THE LAWFUL STATUTORY REQUIREMENT TO NOTIFY CONGRESS BEFORE 
    RELEASING INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT UNITED STATES NAVAL STATION, 
 GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA, AND EXPRESSING NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERNS OVER 
     THE RELEASE OF FIVE TALIBAN LEADERS AND THE REPERCUSSIONS OF 
                      NEGOTIATING WITH TERRORISTS

                                _______
                                

   July 31, 2014.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be 
                                printed

                                _______
                                

           Mr. McKeon, from the Committee on Armed Services, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                       [To accompany H. Res. 644]

    The Committee on Armed Services, to whom was referred the 
resolution (H. Res. 644) condemning and disapproving of the 
Obama administration's failure to comply with the lawful 
statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing 
individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo 
Bay, Cuba, and expressing national security concerns over the 
release of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of 
negotiating with terrorists, having considered the same, report 
favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the 
resolution be agreed to.
    The amendments are as follows:
  Strike all after the resolving clause and insert the 
following:

That the House of Representatives--
          (1) condemns and disapproves of the failure of the Obama 
        administration to comply with the lawful 30-day statutory 
        reporting requirement in executing the transfer of five senior 
        members of the Taliban from detention at United States Naval 
        Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba;
          (2) expresses grave concern about the national security risks 
        associated with the transfer of five senior Taliban leaders, 
        including the national security threat to the American people 
        and the Armed Forces of the United States;
          (3) expresses grave concern over the repercussions of 
        negotiating with terrorists, even when conducted through 
        intermediaries, and the risk that such negotiations with 
        terrorists may further encourage hostilities and the abduction 
        of Americans;
          (4) stipulates that further violations of the law set forth 
        in section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 
        Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66; 10 U.S.C. 801 note) and 
        section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 
        2014 (Public Law 113-76) are unacceptable;
          (5) expresses that these actions have burdened unnecessarily 
        the trust and confidence in the commitment and ability of the 
        Obama administration to constructively engage and work with 
        Congress; and
          (6) expresses relief that Sergeant Bergdahl has returned 
        safely to the United States.

  Amend the preamble to read as follows:

Whereas section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66; 10 U.S.C. 801 note) requires the Secretary of 
Defense to notify the appropriate committees of Congress not later than 30 
days before the transfer or release of any individual detained at United 
States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (hereinafter referred to as 
``GTMO'');

Whereas on May 31, 2014, the Department of Defense transferred five Taliban 
detainees held at GTMO to the State of Qatar;

Whereas according to declassified United States government documents, the 
five detainees were all senior Taliban leaders: Abdul Haq Wasiq was the 
Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence, Mullah Norullah Noori was the 
Taliban military commander at Mazar-e-Sharif, Mullah Mohammad Fazl was the 
Taliban Deputy Minister of Defense, Khairullah Said Wai Khairkwa was the 
Taliban Minister of Interior, and Mohammad Nabi Omari was the Taliban 
communications chief and border chief;

Whereas these five senior Taliban leaders have had associations with al-
Qaeda or have engaged in hostilities against the United States or its 
coalition partners;

Whereas these five senior Taliban detainees held leadership positions 
within the Taliban in Afghanistan when it provided safehaven for al-Qaeda 
to conduct planning, training, and operations for the September 11, 2001, 
attacks;

Whereas in 2010, after an extensive evaluation meant to identify detainees 
who could be transferred out of the detention facility at GTMO, the Obama 
administration determined that these five should remain in United States 
detention because they were ``too dangerous to transfer'' because each 
``poses a high level of threat that cannot be mitigated sufficiently except 
through continued detention'';

Whereas the President has stated that there is ``absolutely'' the 
``possibility of some'' of these former Taliban detainees ``trying to 
return to activities that are detrimental to'' the United States;

Whereas other former GTMO detainees that were transferred have become 
leaders of al-Qaeda affiliates actively plotting against the United States 
and are ``involved in terrorist or insurgent activities'';

Whereas Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testified before the Committee on 
Armed Services of the House of Representatives that, pursuant to an 
agreement with Qatar, the five former detainees transferred in May would 
not be allowed to leave Qatar for one year, but after that date there would 
be no restrictions on the movement of the former detainees;

Whereas notwithstanding the fact that Qatar is an important regional ally, 
after another GTMO detainee was transferred to Qatar in 2008, Qatar 
apparently had difficulty implementing the assurances Qatar gave the United 
States in connection with that detainee's transfer;

Whereas senior officials in the Obama administration negotiated, through 
intermediaries in the government of Qatar, with the Taliban, and with the 
Haqqani Network, which the Department of State has designated as a foreign 
terrorist organization, and which held Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl captive;

Whereas Secretary Hagel testified to the Committee on Armed Services of the 
House of Representatives that negotiations for the transfer of the five 
Taliban detainees in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl began in January 2014;

Whereas the General Counsel of the Department of Defense signed a 
memorandum of understanding with the Attorney General of the State of Qatar 
on May 12, 2014, regarding the security conditions for transfer of these 
five Taliban detainees;

Whereas in addition to an unknown number of officials of Qatar, senior 
Obama administration officials acknowledge that approximately 80 or 90 
individuals within the Obama administration were knowledgeable of the 
planned transfer of the five Taliban detainees prior to their transfer;

Whereas Congress was not notified of the transfer until June 2, 2014, three 
days after such individuals were transferred, and 33 days after the date on 
which such notification was required by section 1035 of the National 
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66; 10 
U.S.C. 801 note) and section 8111 of the Department of Defense 
Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76);

Whereas the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the President and 
other senior Obama administration officials, did not comply with the 30-day 
notification requirement;

Whereas article II, section 3 of the Constitution stipulates that the 
President ``shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed'';

Whereas on January 15, 2009, the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department 
of Justice acknowledged that, under article I of the Constitution, Congress 
possesses legislative authority concerning the detention and release of 
enemy combatants;

Whereas the Obama administration has complied with the law in all other 
detainee transfers from GTMO since the date of the enactment of prevailing 
law; and

Whereas in 2011, after leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives 
expressed their bipartisan opposition to the prospective transfer of these 
Taliban detainees from GTMO, senior Obama administration officials assured 
these Senators and Members of Congress that there would be no exchange of 
Taliban detainees for Sergeant Bergdahl, and that any transfer of Taliban 
detainees that might otherwise occur would be part of a reconciliation 
effort with the Taliban and the Government of Afghanistan and that such a 
transfer would only take place in consultation with Congress pursuant to 
law: Now, therefore, be it

    Amend the title so as to read:
    Resolution condemning and disapproving of the failure of 
the Obama administration to comply with the lawful statutory 
requirement to notify Congress before transferring individuals 
detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 
and expressing concern about the national security risks over 
the transfer of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of 
negotiating with terrorists.

                         PURPOSE AND BACKGROUND

    On June 25, 2014, Representative Scott E. Rigell introduced 
H. Res. 644, ``condemning and disapproving of the Obama 
administration's failure to comply with the lawful statutory 
requirement to notify Congress before releasing individuals 
detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 
and expressing national security concerns over the release of 
five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with 
terrorists.'' H. Res. 644 was referred to the Committee on 
Armed Services on June 25, 2014.
    On May 31, 2014, the United States transferred five 
detainees from the U.S. detention facility at United States 
Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba to Qatar. This 
transfer was carried out due to an agreement achieved between 
the Afghan Taliban and the United States (brokered by the 
Government of Qatar) to release Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to 
the United States in exchange for five GTMO detainees: Abdul 
Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, 
Khairullah Said Wai Khairkwa, and Mohammad Nabi Omari.
    The Department of Defense informed the committee of the 
transfer of the five Guantanamo detainees to Qatar on the same 
day as the exchange. On June 2, 2014 the Secretary of Defense 
provided the committee written notification regarding the 
transfer.
    There are two statutory provisions governing foreign 
transfers of GTMO detainees to the custody or control of 
another country. Section 1035 of the National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66) 
requires the following before the transfer or release of a GTMO 
detainee: (1) the Secretary of Defense must determine that the 
risk posed by the detainee will be substantially mitigated and 
that the transfer is in the national security interests of the 
United States; (2) the Secretary of Defense must notify the 
appropriate committees of Congress at least 30 days before the 
transfer or release of a GTMO detainee; (3) the Secretary of 
Defense must provide detailed information regarding the 
circumstances of the transfer or release along with the 
notification, including how the risk posed by the detainee will 
be substantially mitigated, and an assessment of the capacity, 
willingness, and past practices of the receiving country. 
Section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 
2014 also contains the following language, ``None of the funds 
appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be 
used to transfer any individual detained at United States Naval 
Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the custody or control of the 
individual's country of origin, any other foreign country, or 
any other foreign entity except in accordance with section 1035 
of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2014.''
    On July 29, 2014, the Committee on Armed Services met in 
open session to consider H. Res. 644 and report the measure to 
the House. During the markup, Chairman Howard P. ``Buck'' 
McKeon offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H. 
Res. 644 that would condemn and disapprove of the failure of 
the Obama administration to comply with the lawful statutory 
requirement to notify Congress before transferring five GTMO 
detainees, and expressing concern about the associated national 
security risks and repercussions of negotiating with 
terrorists. The amendment in the nature of a substitute offered 
by Chairman McKeon was agreed to by record vote, 34-25. The 
title of H. Res. 644 would be amended so as to read: 
``Condemning and disapproving of the failure of the Obama 
administration to comply with the lawful statutory requirement 
to notify Congress before transferring individuals detained at 
United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and 
expressing concern about the national security risks over the 
transfer of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of 
negotiating with terrorists.''
    The committee ordered H. Res. 644, as amended, reported to 
the House with a favorable recommendation by voice vote, a 
quorum being present.

                                HEARINGS

    No hearings were held by the committee on H. Res. 644.
    The committee held a hearing ``The May 31, 2014 Transfer of 
Five Senior Taliban Detainees''' on June 11, 2014, to receive 
testimony from Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and the 
General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Stephen Preston. 
The committee subsequently met to receive a classified briefing 
``The May 31, 2014 Transfer of Five Senior Taliban Detainees''' 
on June 18, 2014 from senior officials in the Department of 
Defense and the Office of the Director of National 
Intelligence.

                           COMMITTEE POSITION

    On July 29, 2014, the Committee on Armed Services held a 
markup session to consider H. Res. 644. The committee agreed to 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute during the 
consideration of H. Res. 644.
    The committee ordered H. Res. 644, as amended, reported to 
the House with a favorable recommendation by voice vote, a 
quorum being present.

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    In accordance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, record votes were taken with 
respect to the committee's consideration of H. Res. 644. The 
record of these votes is contained in the following pages.
                      COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES

                             113TH CONGRESS

                          ROLL CALL VOTE NO. 1

                              H. RES. 644

    On agreeing to the Smith Amendment, Log 001r1
    Description: Substitute for the McKeon Amendment in the 
Nature of a Substitute expressing that the Obama administration 
should have given 30 days notice before transferring GTMO 
detainees to Qatar; and that all administrations must give this 
notice before GTMO detainees are transferred to the custody or 
control of a foreign country on the basis of a determination by 
the Secretary of Defense.
    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Member                 Aye       No     Present          Member          Aye       No     Present
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. McKeon.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Smith..........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Thornberry...................  .......       X   .........  Ms. Sanchez........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Jones........................  .......  .......  .........  Mr. McIntyre.......       X   .......  .........
Mr. Forbes.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Brady..........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Miller.......................  .......       X   .........  Mrs. Davis.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Wilson.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Langevin.......       X   .......  .........
Mr. LoBiondo.....................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Larsen.........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Bishop.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Cooper.........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Turner.......................  .......       X   .........  Ms. Bordallo.......       X   .......  .........
Mr. Kline........................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Courtney.......  .......       X   .........
Mr. Rogers.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Loebsack.......       X   .......  .........
Mr. Franks.......................  .......       X   .........  Ms. Tsongas........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Shuster......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Garamendi......       X   .......  .........
Mr. Conaway......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Johnson........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Lamborn......................  .......       X   .........  Ms. Hanabusa.......  .......  .......  .........
Mr. Wittman......................  .......       X   .........  Ms. Speier.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Hunter.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Barber.........       X   .......  .........
Dr. Fleming......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Carson.........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Coffman......................  .......       X   .........  Ms. Shea-Porter....       X   .......  .........
Mr. Rigell.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Maffei.........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Gibson.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Kilmer.........       X   .......  .........
Mrs. Hartzler....................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Castro.........       X   .......  .........
Dr. Heck.........................  .......       X   .........  Ms. Duckworth......       X   .......  .........
Mr. Runyan.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Peters.........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Scott........................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Enyart.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Palazzo......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Gallego........       X   .......  .........
Mr. Brooks.......................  .......       X   .........  Mr. Veasey.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Nugent.......................  .......  .......  .........  Ms. Gabbard........       X   .......  .........
Mrs. Noem........................  .......       X   .........
Mr. Cook.........................  .......       X   .........
Mr. Bridenstine..................  .......       X   .........
Dr. Wenstrup.....................  .......       X   .........
Mrs. Walorski....................  .......       X   .........
Mr. Byrne........................  .......       X   .........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Roll Call Vote Total: Ayes 19; Noes 40; Present 0.
                      COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES

                             113TH CONGRESS

                          ROLL CALL VOTE NO. 2

                              H. RES. 644

    On agreeing to the McKeon Amendment in the Nature of a 
Substitute to H. Res. 644
    Description: Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute 
condemning and disapproving of the failure of the Obama 
administration to comply with the lawful statutory requirement 
to notify Congress before transferring five GTMO detainees, and 
expressing concern about the associated national security risks 
and repercussions of negotiating with terrorists.
    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Member                 Aye       No     Present          Member          Aye       No     Present
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. McKeon.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Smith..........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Thornberry...................       X   .......  .........  Ms. Sanchez........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Jones........................  .......  .......  .........  Mr. McIntyre.......       X   .......  .........
Mr. Forbes.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Brady..........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Miller.......................       X   .......  .........  Mrs. Davis.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Wilson.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Langevin.......  .......       X   .........
Mr. LoBiondo.....................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Larsen.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Bishop.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Cooper.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Turner.......................       X   .......  .........  Ms. Bordallo.......  .......       X   .........
Mr. Kline........................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Courtney.......  .......       X   .........
Mr. Rogers.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Loebsack.......  .......       X   .........
Mr. Franks.......................       X   .......  .........  Ms. Tsongas........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Shuster......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Garamendi......  .......       X   .........
Mr. Conaway......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Johnson........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Lamborn......................       X   .......  .........  Ms. Hanabusa.......  .......  .......  .........
Mr. Wittman......................       X   .......  .........  Ms. Speier.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Hunter.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Barber.........  .......       X   .........
Dr. Fleming......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Carson.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Coffman......................       X   .......  .........  Ms. Shea-Porter....  .......       X   .........
Mr. Rigell.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Maffei.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Gibson.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Kilmer.........  .......       X   .........
Mrs. Hartzler....................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Castro.........  .......       X   .........
Dr. Heck.........................       X   .......  .........  Ms. Duckworth......  .......       X   .........
Mr. Runyan.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Peters.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Scott........................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Enyart.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Palazzo......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Gallego........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Brooks.......................       X   .......  .........  Mr. Veasey.........  .......       X   .........
Mr. Nugent.......................  .......  .......  .........  Ms. Gabbard........       X   .......  .........
Mrs. Noem........................       X   .......  .........
Mr. Cook.........................       X   .......  .........
Mr. Bridenstine..................       X   .......  .........
Dr. Wenstrup.....................       X   .......  .........
Mrs. Walorski....................       X   .......  .........
Mr. Byrne........................       X   .......  .........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Roll Call Vote Total: Ayes 34; Noes 25; Present 0.

                  CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ESTIMATE

    Clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the House of Representatives 
is not applicable because the Congressional Budget Office did 
not provide a cost estimate for the resolution.

                        COMMITTEE COST ESTIMATE

    Pursuant to clause 3(d) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the committee estimates the costs of 
implementing the resolution would be negligible.

           STATEMENT REQUIRED BY THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET ACT

    In accordance with clause (3)(c)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, and section 308(a) of 
the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-344), this 
resolution does not provide new budget authority, new spending 
authority, new credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.

                          ADVISORY OF EARMARKS

    The committee finds that H. Res. 644, as reported, does not 
contain any congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or 
limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9 of rule XXI of 
the Rules of the House of Representatives.

                           OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

    With respect to clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the committee reports that the 
findings and recommendations of the committee are incorporated 
in the descriptive portions of this report.

                GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, there are no general 
performance goals and objectives associated with this 
legislation, as it authorizes no funding.

                  FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act were created by this 
legislation.

                     STATEMENT OF FEDERAL MANDATES

    Pursuant to section 423 of Public Law 104-4, this 
resolution contains no Federal mandates with respect to state, 
local, and tribal governments, nor with respect to the private 
sector. Similarly, the resolution provides no Federal 
intergovernmental mandates.

                APPLICABILITY TO THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The committee finds that this legislation does not relate 
to the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act (Public Law 
104-1).

                    DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS

    No provision of the resolution establishes or reauthorizes 
a program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  DISCLOSURE OF DIRECTED RULE MAKINGS

    The committee estimates that H. Res. 644, as amended, 
requires no directed rule makings.

         CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, H. Res. 644, as amended, would 
not make any changes to existing law.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    H. Res. 644 is an overstated and unnecessary product of a 
rhetorical exercise fueled by overt partisanship. We dissent 
from the condemnation made by H. Res. 644, as reported by the 
House Armed Services Committee, that is based on the premise 
that the Obama administration violated the law in providing the 
appropriate congressional committees less than 30 days' notice 
of the determination made by the Secretary of Defense, 
supporting the May 31, 2014 transfer of five Taliban detainees 
from the detention facility at United States Naval Station, 
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the State of Qatar, in exchange for the 
release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, as called for by section 
1035(d) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66; 10 U.S.C. 801 note). H. Res. 644 
does not provide appropriate means for settling questions on 
the legality of the administration's actions associated with 
the transfer of the five Guantanamo detainees, nor for 
protecting valid congressional interests in being properly 
informed of national security matters, nor for building a more 
constructive relationship between the executive and legislative 
branches of government.
    The House of Representatives should not presume that the 
Obama administration violated the law. There exists stark 
disagreement between the administration and certain members of 
the legislative branch as to whether, in certain circumstances, 
the statutory requirement in question would encroach upon 
constitutional separation of powers principles. In our hearing 
on the matter, on June 11, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel 
expressed the administration's position in his testimony as 
follows:

        In the decision to rescue Sergeant Bergdahl, we 
        complied with the law, and we did what we believed was 
        in the best interests of our country, our military, and 
        Sergeant Bergdahl. The President has constitutional 
        responsibilities and authorities to protect American 
        citizens and members of our armed forces. That's what 
        he did. America does not leave its soldiers behind. We 
        made the right decision, and we did it for the right 
        reasons--to bring home one of our people.

In light of this contention, it does not follow that the 
failure to meet the 30-day notification requirement, as 
unwelcome as that was, clearly amounts to a violation of law, 
and the Obama administration should not be condemned by the 
House of Representatives for its actions on a presumption of 
illegality. Unsubstantiated condemnations of executive actions 
merely serve to undermine the legitimacy of our national 
government.
    The more salient issue involves maintaining proper respect 
for the active and timely participation of the Congress, as a 
co-equal branch of government, in important national security 
matters. The administration should have notified us of the 
Secretary's determination at least 30 days before the transfer 
of the five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo, and the Obama 
administration and all future administrations should always 
comply with the notification requirement of section 1035(d) of 
the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 and 
welcome congressional participation. There is no question that 
the Congress needs to be informed of such detainee transfers, 
and, in the past, the Congress has repeatedly proven that it 
can be trusted to guard sensitive information associated with 
very important national security issues.
    The reported resolution also expresses that actions taken 
by the Obama administration ``have burdened unnecessarily the 
trust and confidence in the commitment and ability of the Obama 
administration to constructively engage and work with 
Congress.'' We would have strongly preferred the administration 
to have fulfilled the 30-day notification requirement, and 
thereby reinforced its commitment and ability to maintain a 
productive relationship with the Congress. However, we find the 
overly partisan and prosecutorial tone of H. Res. 644 to be an 
impediment, rather than an inducement, to a more engaging and 
constructive relationship between the legislative and executive 
branches of government, regarding sensitive national security 
affairs.
    The President and his administration performed an arduous 
task in securing the safe return of an American serviceman held 
captive by enemy combatants. As with many undertakings in the 
national security arena, significant risks were involved and 
difficult choices needed to be made. For the House of 
Representatives to second guess those decisions, in hindsight, 
on the basis of risk, while simultaneously expressing relief 
that the benefit of Sergeant Bergdahl's safe return was in fact 
achieved, would be as unfair as it would be wrong.

                                   Adam Smith.
                                   John Garamendi.
                                   Rick Larsen.
                                   Joe Courtney.
                                   Madeleine Z. Bordallo.
                                   Susan A. Davis.

                                  [all]