Trading five terrorists for a deserter isn’t just bad policy, it’s against the law
President Obama was wrong earlier this year to trade five hardened terrorists from the prison at Guantanamo Bay for a deserter. All but the president’s most dedicated supporters understood then that the trade was a really bad idea. Now, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office has confirmed what many suspect, that the swap violated a “clear and unambiguous” law.
For this White House, the law is little more than an annoyance to be swatted away when inconvenient. Mr. Obama makes and remakes the law as he goes along. Congress has allowed itself to become irrelevant.
But Congress, in a rare fit of resistance, suspected that Mr. Obama might be tempted to release Guantanamo’s remaining prisoners. He had campaigned for president with a promise to shut down Guantanamo. To keep dangerous thugs locked up, Congress passed legislation that the president had to sign requiring the secretary of defense to “notify the appropriate committees of Congress … not later than 30 days before the transfer or release of the individual” from Guantanamo. This notification had to include “an explanation of why the transfer or release is in the national security interests of the United States.”