WASHINGTON — The Obama administration finalized the exchange of the last remaining U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo only a day before the June 1 swap, a top Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday. He said American officials didn't learn the pickup location Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl until an hour ahead of time.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2-ranked Democrat, presented the timeline as an explanation for why President Barack Obama didn't inform Congress 30 days before the deal. Republicans and some Democrats have sharply criticized the president for failing to notify them and claim he broke the law. Obama says he acted legally.
"They knew a day ahead of time the transfer was going to take place," Durbin told reporters in the Capitol, where military officials briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee behind closed doors. "They knew an hour ahead of time where it was going to take place."
His remarks came as a House panel overwhelmingly backed a measure barring U.S. funds for the transfer of detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amid the congressional outcry over the swap.