FACT SHEET: When DOD Could Have Notified Congress About The Taliban Five Transfer

Dec 10, 2015
Defense Drumbeat

The law requires the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress “not later than 30 days before the transfer or release of detainees" from GTMO.  According to the HASC report, here are just some of the missed opportunities to comply with the letter or even the spirit of the law before the Taliban Five were transferred on May 31st, 2014:
 
102 Days before the Transfer, when on February 18th, e-mails were sent between the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department noting the leak of “very accurate info,” in theWashington Post about prisoner swap negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban – while concurrently denying the United States was “involved in active negotiations with the Taliban” to both the press and Congress.
 
95 Days before the transfer, when on February 25th, the DoD General Counsel prepared talking points for the Secretary of Defense to use at upcoming congressional hearings to reiterate the denials about negotiations with the Taliban. 

51 Days before the Transfer, when on April 10th, DoD officials went to Qatar to reinvigorate negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the transfer.
 
31 Days before the transfer, when on April 30th, the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan testified before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that the Taliban had broken off direct contact more than 2 years earlier, but the United States, “would very much like to return to direct contact with them and if we do at the top of our agenda will be Sergeant Bergdahl,” and then departed for Qatar to conclude negotiations the next day.

30 Days before the transfer, when on May 1st, DoD officials returned to Qatar to conclude negotiations.
 
29 Days before the transfer, when on May 2nd, the Taliban agreed to the MOU.
 
25 Days before the transfer, when on May 6th, DoD asked the Department of Justice to find a way around the 30 day notice requirement.
 
19 Days before the transfer, when on May 12th, in a formal White House signing ceremony--held in secret--the United States and Qatar signed the MOU.
 
9 Days before the transfer, when on May 22nd, DOJ once again confirmed that DoD could work around the 30 day requirement.
 
4 Days before the transfer, when the lead Defense Department negotiator told Secretary Hagel, “we have a deal” on the sequence and structure of the exchange.
 
2 Days before the transfer, when the Taliban 5 were told about the transfer.

114th Congress