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Top Obama Official Hits Back Against Republican Criticism

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, says the administration had been consulting Congress on the exchange of Guantanamo detainees for a Taliban-held U.S. soldier, hitting back against Republican critics.

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released on May 31 after five years in Taliban captivity, under a deal that also saw the transfer of five Taliban detainees from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo to Qatar.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on June 2, McDonough said: "We've been consulting with members of Congress about this effort, including the potential transfer of five Gitmo detainees for years."

McDonough added that he himself had participated in the consultations and that the release shouldn't have been a "surprise."

Some Republican politicians charge that the release of the detainees violated the law because Congress had to be notified for it.