When is breaking the law not breaking the law?

When the Obama administration says it is not - no matter what anyone else rules.

On Thursday, the General Accounting Office, a non-partisan agency, said the Pentagon broke the law twice during its trade earlier this year for the return of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

For those who have forgotten the story, on June 30, 2009, Sgt. Bergdahl reportedly left his base in Afghanistan without his weapon and was promptly taken prisoner by the Taliban. An ongoing investigation is attempting to decide if he was deserting at that time and later aided the Taliban forces.

After several attempts and years of trying, the Obama administration brokered a deal with the kidnappers to exchange five Taliban leaders held captive at the prison at Guantanamo and nearly $1 million for the soldier.

The GAO report stated the trade, as it transpired, was against the law.

“In our view, the meaning of the law is clear and unambiguous,” said the report. “In our view the Department of Defense dismissed the significance of the express language.”

At its core, the GAO said the law was broken on two fronts:

1) The proper 30-day notice was not given to congressional leaders of the trade. Notice began after the trade had been consummated.

2) The money transfer broke the law by using funds to transfer detainees from Guatanamo Bay to foreign control.

When confronted with the report, DOD officials said they believed the trade for Bergdahl was legal and the Department of Justice confirmed the decision.

We believe the Department of Defense and the Obama administration were correct in attempting every avenue to return a soldier to the U.S. We believe that responsibility is part of the government’s pact with every man and woman who puts on a U.S. armed forces uniform.

Further, we believe the 30-day notification period is ridiculously long when dealing with the terrorist forces around the world today. Information and knowledge travels too fast for that long a period of time.

However, we also believe laws are put in place for a reason - either to protect U.S. citizens or to protect the interests of the country.

In this case, we believe the Obama administration could have taken a few minutes to contact members of the intelligence oversight committees, explain the time constraint they were under, and then completed the trade. That attempt would have at least answered the intent of the law. It would be hard to understand any elected official vigorously attacking the decision if the effort had been made.

Instead, the Obama administration decided the ends justified the means and the laws be damned. With the transfer of the funds, our leaders also told the world we are a country who abides by the rule of law - until the laws are inconvenient and then we are just as willing to break them as any third world, banana republic government.

Unfortunately, breaking laws that are in the way appears to be the pattern with the current U.S. leadership.

We are happy a U.S. soldier has been returned home safely from enemy control. We also hope the investigation is concluded so we can understand what happened during Bergdahl’s capture.

We just wish the Obama administration had at least attempted to perform the trade legally.