The White House said Tuesday the number of administration officials who knew in advance about the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was smaller than the 80 or 90 officials claimed by some lawmakers briefed on the case.
“Discretion on this matter was important,” said White House deputy press secretary Joshua Earnest. “This is a secret military mission in which disclosure of the mission could put into jeopardy” the lives of Sgt. Bergdahl and others.
Mr. Earnest said the number of administration officials who knew about the prisoner exchange in advance was “even smaller than 80 to 90,” although he declined to specify a number. Some lawmakers who received a secret briefing in Congress Monday night by intelligence agency officials said later that as many as 80 to 90 administration officials knew about the deal in advance.
Mr. Earnest said 80 to 90 administration officials “had access to intelligence related to Taliban activities in Qatar,” which brokered the deal. But he said fewer officials “were aware of specific military actions” involving Sgt. Bergdahl’s transfer.
Lawmakers are angry that the administration ignored a law that requires the White House to notify Congress 30 days in advance of such a prisoner exchange, which involved releasing Taliban detainees from the U.S. compound at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.