Exchanging Taliban prisoner Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for fighters held at Guantanamo broke the law, the U.S. Government Accountability Office ruled.
The Defense Department should have notified Congress 30 days before the deal, the GAO said, because it involved freeing the Guantanamo prisoners. The Defense Department also improperly used funds in the prisoner swap, the GAO said.
Bergdahl's negotiated release was immediately controversial because of the five suspected terrorists released and because Bergdahl is accused of purposefully leaving his Army post before being captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan five years ago.
Several Republican senators requested the GAO's input weeks after Bergdahl's release.
The Army investigation into Bergdahl's disappearance continues, and the Obama administration has never wavered from maintaining both the deal's legality and morality.
"The administration had a fleeting opportunity to protect the life of a U.S. service member held captive and in danger for almost five years," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said. "Under these exceptional circumstances, the administration determined that it was necessary and appropriate to forego 30 days' notice of the transfer in order to obtain Sgt. Bergdahl's safe return."
Some of Bergdahl's fellow soldiers accused him of desertion. Missions to recover him resulted in six other soldiers' deaths.