OTR Interviews

Inside the Senate briefing on the Bergdahl prisoner swap: More frustration from Congress with a secretive Obama White House

After Sen. Dianne Feinstein blasts the Obama administration for bypassing the Senate Intel Committee in the prisoner swap for Sgt. Bergdahl, officials brief the full Senate behind closed doors


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a FOX News alert. Just minutes ago, right behind us, on Capitol Hill, the Obama administration finished briefing the full Senate on the Bergdahl swap.

Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, who is the ranking member on the Intel Committee, just came from that classified session. He joins us.

Good evening, sir.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, R-GA.: Hello, Greta. Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you satisfied, sir, with what you learned in that classified briefing that the White House was right in not giving you notice that this was going to happen?

CHAMBLISS: No. I'm more convinced than ever, Greta, that the White House played this so close to the vest intentionally and made a determination not to give Congress notice. They -- I still don't know the reason why. I heard what they said today but it made no sense whatsoever. And in my opinion, they made a calculation early on in the process that we're going to do this and no need to notify Congress.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you gets a sense that the other side of the aisle, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, was more satisfied or does she feel like you do tonight after this briefing?

CHAMBLISS: Well, obviously, you will have to ask Dianne. I did not have a chance to talk to her after the briefing. In fact, the briefing is still going on but I don't see how anybody can walk out of there with any kind of comfortable feeling that the administration, from a notification standpoint -- and I emphasize that -- did what they should have done or what they had the opportunity to do. I mean, it was like they didn't trust Dianne and me. And, yet, the two of us knew about the bin Laden event for -- leading up to the takedown of bin Laden for months and months and months. And it's just very puzzling as to why they didn't notify anybody in Congress as to what was going on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, was the "proof of life" video shown inside the classified briefing?

CHAMBLISS: It was. And I hope they release that because it's not a very long video. And, frankly, it's not an indication, Greta, of what I expected to see, because what we were told is that the administration made a determination that the health of Sergeant Bergdahl had deteriorated to such a point to where his life was in danger and there is no way to determine that from looking at that very brief video. He was obviously drugged and was put in a position, probably coerced into making a very brief statement. You could hardly understand him. In fact, he was drugged to that point.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I still don't get -- I mean, did they -- did the White House say tonight, you know, I understand that they didn't meet the 30 day deadline but did they say why they didn't call you five minutes before it went down? I mean, why they didn't pick up the phone at the White House and call you and Senator Feinstein. It would have taken about 30 seconds.

CHAMBLISS: Yeah, I mean that was my question to Tony (inaudible), I said look, I can understand there might have been like in the situation where you didn't have time to give us 30 days notice, but you guys knew this was going down several days out. Why didn't you pick up the phone, particularly since Secretary Clinton had written to Senator Feinstein and me and said, we understand the law is we have to give you 30 days notice before the transfer of any Guantanamo detainee. We assure you we will give you that notice. So, my comment back to the administration is that I'm not gonna believe anything they tell me from now on. They're willing to violate the law. But even short of that, when they commit to us that they are going to give us 30 days notice and then they don't do it, how in the world can we trust the administration on anything they tell us?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have the sense that the deal with Qatar was a good deal or are you concerned about it? And why, you know, why Qatar?

CHAMBLISS: Well, I mean, the Qataris are in a position of being able to talk to both sides in this case, I guess it's the best way to put it, and that's a little bit different position than any other country in that region. I did not think the Qataris have -- I do not think the Qataris have the capability of looking after these five Individuals but this administration has put an awful lot of trust in the Qatar government to make sure that they are monitored for the next 12 months. I think because this thing has been given so much publicity, they are going to go overboard to try to do that. But I really question where they have the capability of doing that.


CHAMBLISS: The deal itself though, Greta, continues to be a bad deal. Nothing was said today that changes my mind in any way about the fact that these are a five of the meanest, nastiest killers in the world they wake up every morning now thinking of ways to kill an arm Americans and in the long run the national security of the United States is gonna be harmed by this bad deal.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did we pay any money in addition to releasing those five?

CHAMBLISS: I'm not aware of any money that was paid, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did the White House say we definitely didn't pay any money?

CHAMBLISS: I really can't get into the specific question that were answered, but justify (ph) to say I'm not aware of any money being paid.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of -- did this really have to be classified, this hearing today?

CHAMBLISS: Some of the things that were said in there were talked about in a classified way. So, yes, I think so but frankly, about 90 percent of it has been in the press already. There were some questions that needed to be asked such as about the statement that Sergeant Bergdahl may have left with his personal effects, things like that needed to be cleared up and there were a lot of questions not necessarily about that deflectative, but about other things that have been said in the press just trying to clear the air a little bit.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator thank you -- go ahead, sir.

CHAMBLISS: The focus -- the two focuses were, was this guy a deserter and that's an on-going process. They -- we did not expect them to be able to answer that question. That's a decision the army will make in due time. The other question -- main question was on the health of this guy. And that question did get answered. Health wise, he is in stable condition and I think he will be fine. Has issues but not life threatening. Then the rest of the focus was on the five Individuals.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.