Detention & Guantanamo

GAO: Defense Department Violated Law In Bergdahl-GTMO Detainee Swap

By Wells Bennett
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 4:05 PM

So concludes this report from the Government Accountability Office, which apparently was written in response to a request by various Senators. The document opens:

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).