"It strikes me as unfortunate that they could have 80 to 90 people
in the administration aware of what was happening and not be able to
trust a single Republican or Democrat in the House or the Senate,"
Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, a member of the House of
Representatives Republican leadership, told reporters after leaving
a briefing on the exchange.
The White House has been trying to appease angry lawmakers since
President Barack Obama announced on May 31 that Army Sergeant Bowe
Bergdahl had been exchanged for the five inmates from the U.S.
military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
House Republicans said they planned an investigation of the exchange
Lawmakers and human rights activists said they expected the furor
would make it more difficult to win Congress' backing for Obama's
avowed intention to close the detention camp, long criticized by
human rights groups and others.
"Congress does not like to be left out of the loop," Texas
Representative Gene Green, a Democrat, told Reuters. If the White
House had called at least the leaders of national security
committees, "that would have been much better and maybe we would not
have had this controversy," he said.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said in a Senate speech on
Monday he would introduce a bill this week that would bar any
federal funding for Guantanamo transfers for six months.
Congressional aides told Reuters that similar legislation is
expected to be introduced as soon as this week in the Republican-led
House, where opposition to closing the Guantanamo prison is far
stronger than in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
[to top of second column]
Members of Congress were not informed about the prisoner swap deal
despite U.S. law requiring that the House and Senate be given 30
days' notice before any prisoners are transferred from Guantanamo.
Top White House staff have apologized to a few senior lawmakers.
They have also held classified briefings including Monday's session
for the House and a similar one for the Senate last week.
A classified Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the matter
is planned for Tuesday with senior defense and intelligence
officials. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will testify in a public
House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.
California Representative Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed
Services Committee, promised an investigation of the swap deal. He
said it would start with the hearing on Wednesday with Hagel, but
include additional hearings and briefings.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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