Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that President Obama put Congress “on notice” in December that he intended to exercise his powers to negotiate detainee transfers.
“While the President cannot change the law with a signing statement, given that notice, members of Congress should not be surprised that he acted as he did in the circumstances that existed,” Mr. Levin said.
The “notice,” according to Mr. Levin, came Dec. 23, when Congress was told Mr. Obama intended to exercise his authority, if necessary, “to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers.”
Mr. Levin’s statement comes as Mr. Obama faces criticism from some GOP lawmakers that the administration did not give Congress the required 30 days of notice before transferring five Guantanamo Bay prison detainees to Qatar in exchange for securing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Afghanistan.
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were scheduled to be briefed on the exchange Tuesday.
“When the Armed Services Committee is briefed on this matter next Tuesday, I intend to ask what risks we would have incurred if the Secretary of Defense had decided to wait 30 days after completing negotiations and providing the required notice to Congress rather than acting immediately,” Mr. Levin said.