Friday, November 17, 2017

U.S. soldier in prisoner swap could face charges

RECOMMENDED READING


WASHINGTON — The nation's top military officer said Tuesday the Army could still throw the book at Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the young soldier who walked away from his unit in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and into five years of captivity by the Taliban.

Charges are still a possibility, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Associated Press as criticism mounted in Congress about releasing five high-level Taliban detainees in exchange for Bergdahl. Results of an Army investigation could conceivably lead to desertion or other charges.

Congress began holding hearings and briefings into the deal that swapped Bergdahl for Taliban officials who had been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The White House took a fourth straight day of heat for not giving Congress the required 30 days' notice of a detainee release. Obama had issued a statement when he signed the law containing that requirement giving himself a loophole for certain circumstances under the executive powers clause of the Constitution.

Obama, at a news conference in Poland, defended the decision to move quickly on the exchange, saying without offering details that U.S. officials were concerned about Bergdahl's health.

Obama also said the Taliban officials' release was conditioned on assurances from officials in Qatar, where they will have to stay for one year, that they will track them and allow the U.S. to monitor them.

"We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely," Obama said. "That's been true of all the prisoners that were released from Guantanamo."

Sen. Bill Nelson and his Republican counterpart Sen. Marco Rubio disagreed Tuesday on whether Obama had legal authority to strike the deal.

"If he needs to act and he needs to act quickly, I think he has the constitutional authority to do that," Nelson, a Democrat, said in an interview with Florida reporters.

Rubio, on Fox News, said: "Obviously, no one is lamenting the fact that an American serviceman is going to be back with his family. But the president's considerations have to go beyond that. It has to be about acting in the national security of the United States, and it has to be about following the law. No. 1, the president has violated the law here. The law is very clear. He must give congressional notification 30 days before any prisoner in Guantanamo is released. He failed to do that."

Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary contributed to this report.

Comments

Jameis Winston says groping allegations are ‘false’

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston denied allegations by an Arizona Uber driver that he groped her in 2016. The NFL confirmed it is investigating the incident.Winston released a statement on his Twitter account saying the driver was 'confused,' by the n...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Florida spent $22,000 to remove online nursing home info from public view

Florida spent $22,000 to remove online nursing home info from public view

From the Miami Herald's Carol Marbin Miller and Caitlin Ostroff:On a good day, Olga Vasquez would dress up in the morning, apply makeup and stand in the hallway at her Hialeah Gardens nursing home, helping other residents get in and out of wheelchair...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
20 years of changing seasons on Earth packed into 2˝ minutes

20 years of changing seasons on Earth packed into 2˝ minutes

NASA has captured 20 years of seasonal changes in a striking new global map of the home planet
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Wife of Alabama Senate candidate Moore says he won't quit

Wife of Alabama Senate candidate Moore says he won't quit

The wife of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is going on the offense against women accusing him of sexual misconduct and assault
Updated: 15 minutes ago

White House requests $44B disaster aid bill

The White House has sent Congress a $44 billion disaster aid request that falls far short of demands from hurricane-hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico
Updated: 15 minutes ago

Democrats press Homeland Security pick on immigration issues

A group of Senate Democrats is pressing President Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security for more specific answers on a series of contentious immigration policy questions
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Keystone pipeline leak won't affect Nebraska ruling

Keystone pipeline leak won't affect Nebraska ruling

A state official says discovery of a 210,000-gallons oil spill from the Keystone pipeline will not affect the decision of Nebraska regulators next week on a massive expansion of the system.
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

The tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long lived, as predicted by economists. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Fri...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Senate hires special master as second Latvala probe gets underway

Senate hires special master as second Latvala probe gets underway

The Senate’s decision to outsource its investigation of sexual harassment claims against Sen. Jack Latvala got moving on the second track Friday as the Senate’s hired special master started interviewing witnesses.The special master, retir...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Director of Puerto Rico power company resigns amid scrutiny

Director of Puerto Rico power company resigns amid scrutiny

The director of Puerto Rico's power company has resigned amid ongoing blackouts and following scrutiny of a contract awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings Inc.
Updated: 17 minutes ago