On May 31, 2014 the department of Defense transferred five senior Taliban fighters from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in exchange for the Taliban’s release of deserter and possible traitor Bowe Bergdahl. At the time the Government Accounting Office was asked if the use of funds to make this trade was legal because Congress wasn't given the proper 30-day warning.
On Thursday the GAO ruled that the use of funds was indeed illegal. In a letter to Minority Leader McConnell as well as the GOP members on the Senate Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriations, the GAO explained why the transfer wasn't "kosher."
This responds to your June 13, 2014, request for our opinion on whether the Department of Defense (DOD) incurred obligations in violation of section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 when it transferred five individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the nation of Qatar. Section 8111 prohibits DOD from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay unless the Secretary of Defense notifies certain congressional committees at least 30 days before the transfer. Pub. L. No. 113-76, div. C, title VIII, § 8111, 128 Stat. 5, 131 (Jan. 17, 2014).
As explained below, we conclude that DOD violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer. In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation. 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a).
(...) Our opinion in this matter rests upon the Secretary of Defense’s responsibility to comply with a notification condition on the availability of appropriations to transfer individuals from Guantanamo Bay. This opinion does not address the Secretary’s decision to transfer the five individuals in this case as part of DOD’s efforts to secure the release of an American soldier. However, when DOD failed to notify specified congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of its transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Qatar, DOD used appropriated funds in violation of section 8111. As a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act. See 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a). DOD should report its Antideficiency Act violation as required by law.Not that it will change anything..but it is another brick in the "Obama ignoring the law" wall/