Among the questions being raised about this weekend's exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo is why Congress was not informed of the move ahead of time. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Meet the Press on Sunday that concerns over the health and perhaps even the survival of Bergdahl required secrecy, telling reporters, "We couldn't afford any leaks anywhere" because the deal was "essentially an operation to save the life of Sgt. Bergdahl."
But just under a year ago, in June 2013, White House press secretary Jay Carney was unequivocal in his response to a reporter's questions about this very deal, saying, "[W]e would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with U.S. law."
Here is the full exchange from the White House transcript [emphasis added]:
Q Jay, going to back to Afghanistan, the Taliban has offered to release Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five members of the Taliban who are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. Is this something that the administration is considering? Is this something that the President would agree to?
MR. CARNEY: What I can tell you is that the main dialogue that we support is the dialogue between Afghans -- between the Taliban and the Afghan government. However, there are some issues that we would like to discuss with the Taliban directly, and this includes the safe return of Sergeant Bergdahl, who has been gone for far too long.
We continue to call for and work toward his safe and immediate release. We cannot discuss all the details of our efforts, but there should be no doubt that on a daily basis we are continuing to pursue -- using our military, intelligence and diplomatic tools -- the effort to return him home safely. And our hearts are with the Bergdahl family.
With regard to the transfer of Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, we have made -- the United States has not made the decision to do that, though we do expect the Taliban to raise this issue in our discussion, if and when those discussions happen.
As we have long said, however, we would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with U.S. law.
President Obama announced Friday, the day before the Bergdahl-detainee exchange, that Carney was leaving his position as press secretary.