The President has justified the deal that released five top Taliban commanders, and his refusal to notify Congress of the release in advance (as required by statute), principally on two theories.
As to the refusal of notification, the Administration has said that the President's signing statement accompanying the statute gave him authority to undertake the release in emergency circumstances without telling Congress.
As to the release itself -- which was the price for the return of the allegedly captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl -- the White House's answer (per Jay Carney) has been, "He was a prisoner in an armed conflict, a member of the military, and in that situation the United States does not leave its men and women behind."
Neither statement is true.
One thing I 've noticed in the MSM coverage of this story is that it almost never gives you a way to track down the text of the signing statement. But it is available, and here it is. The relevant language is as follows:
The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers.
Let's assume for the moment that signing statements supersede the legislation they accompany (which they don't). So what? Nowhere in the relevant language does the signing statement purport to authorize the President actually to release anyone without notifying Congress. What it authorizes is swift (by which Obama presumably means un-notified) negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of transfers, not the removal from Gitmo per se.
So the Administration's claim of authorization, under the signing statement, for the un-notified release of the Taliban commanders, is false even taken on its own terms.
The Administration's claim that we don't leave our people behind in an armed conflict is also false. One need look no further than Benghazi, where, despite the embassy's urgent calls for help while the terrorist attack was underway, we left four of our people behind to spend desperate hours fending for themselves -- before getting brutally murdered, that is.
This is despite the fact that, as one high-ranking military source has testified, some military response could have been undertaken, even given the distances involved.
Still, the President had his reasons for not being as concerned in the Benghazi case as he was in the Bergdahl case. With respect to Bergdahl, he ignored the law, kept Congress in the dark, endangered an ally, negotiated with terrorists, and thus abandoned the policy of all his predecessors while jeopardizing the long term national security interests of the United States. He did these things in the service of a defector who deserted his unit and chose his fate.
In the Benghazi episode, a more relaxed outlook was warranted, and not as much attention was needed for the idea that we don't leave our people behind: The President was packing for his fundraiser in Vegas the next day.