Washington D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, released the following statement on the report investigating the 2014 transfer of five Taliban detainees in exchange for the release of Sergeant Bergdahl. The report and accompanying dissent can be read here.
“The Oversight & Investigation report made public today is an unfair, partisan and redundant effort to justify the partisan resolution the House passed almost 18 months ago, resulting in a waste of time and taxpayer resources. At best, the House Armed Services Committee’s oversight can help correct problems with the operations of the Department of Defense. This report misses that opportunity.
In response to the Administration’s decision in May 2014 to exchange five senior Taliban detainees for Sergeant Robert Bergdhal, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing in June 2014. While many legitimate questions were raised by the exchange of Sergeant Bergdhal, the President had a responsibility to recover Sergeant Bergdhal from enemy hands, following the standard that “no service member is left behind.” We can and should have an intelligent, discussion on the decision to conduct the exchange for Sergeant Bergdhal and the process that was used to do so. Sergeant Bergdhal’s release provides an opportunity to consider how the Executive Branch should notify Congress about impending operations. There is substantial legal controversy over the Bergdahl exchange, but the Administration still should have made a good faith effort to comply with the statute. The O&I investigation could have taken the opportunity to carefully examine those considerations and advance that discussion. Unfortunately, today’s report falls painfully short of that goal.
The report released by the House Armed Services majority is the product of a nearly year-and-a-half investigation throughout which the Democratic members and staff were excluded from the Republicans’ closed process for analyzing the collected information, shaping findings and conclusions, and ultimately drafting the report. Democratic members or their staff participated in every witness interview and received copies of all documents provided to the committee by the Department of Defense. This was in the best traditions of the House Armed Services Committee, and Chairman Thornberry and Chairwoman Hartzler deserve great credit for ensuring this happened. Unfortunately, excluding the Democratic members and staff after this point practically guaranteed that the report would be the partisan document released today. Democratic members were not given sufficient time to review and comment on the draft of the report, precluding many members from fully digesting the report and making suggestions for improvements.”
“I strongly object to the process through which this report has been conducted on the part of the Republican majority. As Members of Congress we must conduct ourselves in a reasonable and pragmatic manner, especially on matters of national security. The process used to draft this report and the partisan results undermine this objective,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith. “The House Armed Services Committee has a strong and proud history of serving as a bipartisan legislative body. It is my hope that in the future we will return to our longstanding history of bipartisan cooperation to provide for the national security of our nation.”
“The Republicans wrote this report in a way that was designed to validate a predetermined conclusion, not investigate the facts in an impartial manner,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackie Speier. “They refused to let Democrats be part of the analysis and issued a distorted narrative that came to inflammatory conclusions. I truly enjoy working with the chair of this subcommittee and this is inconsistent with the way things have been handled in the past--I hope it is not a harbinger of the future.”