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Boehner: White House Explanation for Bergdahl Secrecy ‘Just Not True’

Boehner (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Boehner (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio cast doubt Tuesday on the administration’s claim that it did not inform members of Congress about the prisoner swap that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl due to a fear of leaks, and said the swap will lead to consequences.  

“The biggest issue here is a violation of a policy that the United States has had for many, many years that we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” he said. “The fact is we have violated that policy and as a result, this made America less safe, here and all around the world. And we’re going to pay for it. There is not any doubt in my mind there are going to be costs … lost lives, associated with what came out of this.”  

Boehner said he and several other members of Congress were briefed multiple times in the run up to the special forces raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.  

“Six times before Osama bin Laden was taken down I was briefed on it. I was briefed multiple times over the course of the six months. I was given a heads up several days before it happened. So this idea that they couldn’t trust us with not leaking anything, it’s just not true,” Boehner told reporters. Boehner is a member of a group of eight congressional leaders and intelligence committee heads who are routinely briefed on classified matters. But he said he was never given specifics about the trade, which freed five Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl.  

“I was never briefed about a 5-to-1 swap, nor were there any names. There was a discussion several years ago about efforts to get Bergdahl back, and we’re glad that he’s back. But I was never briefed on any specific negotiations,” he said.  

Boehner comments come a day after a classified briefing, which left Republicans fuming.