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For all the other controversy surounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, President Obama’s decision to release five Taliban leaders, without formally notifying Congress first, is almost universally understood to be illegal.
Sure, there are some people who argue that the law in question, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act — specifically Section 1035, is an unconstitutional infringement of Obama’s inherent Article II wartime powers.
However, if Obama believed that Section 1035 did infringe on his Article II war powers, then he should have vetoed the bill outright and demanded Congress pass it again without the offending provision. Either way, even those who say Obama acted within his constitutional rights, also admit that he violated the underlying statute.