Judicial Watch Files Two Lawsuits against Obama Administration for Information on Terrorist Swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
DECEMBER 19, 2014
GAO found that Obama broke a “clear and unambiguous” law when he swapped Bowe Bergdahl for the high-level terrorists
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on November 18, 2014, it filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the U.S. Departments of Defense and State to obtain records concerning arrangements made between the U.S. government with third parties or another state regarding agreements and monetary payments to secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity in Afghanistan. The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:14-cv-01936)) and (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01938)).
The Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuits, filed after the Defense and State Departments failed to respond to June 11, 2014, FOIA requests seek the following:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to any and all monetary payments made directly by the United States or by a third party to any person, group, or state as part of an agreement reached for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity in Afghanistan.
Judicial Watch is asking the court to order the Departments of Defense and State to conduct searches for “any and all records” to the FOIA requests, and the methods it employed to search for them. The lawsuits also request that Defense and State be ordered to produce “any and all non-exempt records” responsive to the FOIA requests, and a Vaughn index of any records withheld.
Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan beginning in June 2009 until he was released in May 2014. He was released in exchange for five Taliban terrorist leaders held as prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl has been accused of desertion and a Pentagon investigation of his conduct is still secret, despite it having been completed months ago, according to a December 15, 2014, The Washington Post report. The Post also reported:
In November, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.) suggested in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, that the United States had tried to pay ransom to get Bergdahl back, but failed after it was taken by an Afghan “intermediary” who disappeared with the cash and didn’t help free the soldier.
[Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John] Kirby denied that Nov. 20, saying no money was paid and there was no failed attempt to pay ransom.
“Violating the law to swap terrorists for Sgt. Bergdahl is another example of abuse of office by President Obama,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “While the ultimate fate of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is murky, the fate of the five Taliban terrorists is certain. They are now free to return to the battlefield and wreak havoc on Afghan citizens and U.S. soldiers remaining in the country. In the meantime, two federal agencies – State and Defense – are violating federal transparency law to cover up the truth about Obama’s release of terrorists.”
In an August 22, 2014, Corruption Chronicles article, Judicial Watch reported that the Obama administration may have violated “clear and unambiguous” law when it made the highly controversial, secret exchange:
The nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), confirmed this week that the president broke a “clear and unambiguous” law when he swapped the high-level terrorists for Bowe Bergdahl, an Army sergeant who went AWOL in Afghanistan in 2009. According to rules issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the violation is serious and can carry severe consequences. They include fines, imprisonment, administrative discipline, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office, the rules specifically state …
…Congress must be notified before acts of this magnitude are committed and the president completely disregarded the legislative branch. In fact the Department of Defense (DOD) failed to notify Congress at least 30 days in advance of the exchange, a flagrant violation of the law, and misused nearly $1 million of a wartime account to make the transfer, the GAO report says. The DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, congressional investigators found. This means the DOD violated a measure known as the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in appropriation.