Chambliss: Obama should declassify files of suspects swapped for Bergdahl


Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) walks past reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday on his way to a closed-door committee briefing. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that he will send a letter to President Obama demanding that the files of the five Taliban members released this weekend in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl be made public.

"These five individuals are not low-level, run of the mill, fighter type terrorists. These are the guys that raise the money, that made the plans to develop the IEDs, and in some cases are accused of inciting riots that killed not hundreds but thousands of people," Chambliss said. "The president needs to look the American people in the eye and explain to the American people why he was justified in releasing these five individuals."

Chambliss said that the letter he will send Tuesday afternoon will demand that Obama declassify the currently classified files on the five detainees, who were released from Guantanamo Bay over the weekend in exchange for Bergdahl, the only known American solider in enemy custody in Afghanistan.

The senator said that releasing the files would bring clarity to "... what each one of these individuals was accused of, why they were being held at Guantanamo, and what this administration found in the annual review of each of those cases and let the American people know why in the eyes of the president he was justified in returning these five individuals to the fight."

[READ: Freed prisoners were battle-hardened Taliban commanders]

The prisoner swap was a major focus on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, with several members of criticizing the trade.

"This agreement in my view puts future men and women who are serving in the military at great risk," said Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.), a former prisoner  of war. "This decision to bring Sgt. Bergdal home, and we applaud the fact that he is home, is ill-founded. It is a mistake, and it is putting the lives of American service men and women at risk, and that, to me, is unacceptable."

Other Republicans slammed Obama for not notifying top members of the Intelligence Committee prior to making the deal.

"I haven't had a conversation with the White House on this issue in a year in a half." Chambliss said. "If that's keeping us in the loop than this administration is more arrogant than I thought they were."

[READ: White House first discussed Bergdahl prisoner exchange with lawmakers in 2011]

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said that he was given advance notice that the trade was going to happen and was called by the White House on Friday.

Other top members of Congress, including Chambliss and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), said they were not informed prior to the trade.

"I was notified on Saturday," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), later adding that he was unsure if he received a call before or after the swap had taken place. "I forget exactly the timing."

Wesley Lowery covers Capitol Hill for The Fix and Post Politics.
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