Hagel defends Taliban deal to free US soldier

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel aggressively defended the secret prisoner exchange of five Taliban detainees for an American soldier, telling Congress that the risks were too great and the situation too uncertain for the administration to tell lawmakers about the plan.


In a nearly five-hour congressional hearing Wednesday that was at times contentious, House members accused Hagel and the White House of
not trusting them enough to follow the law and fill them in on the decision to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five detainees at the US facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


An equally combative Hagel said the deal provided "the best possibility that we had to get him out, and we were concerned we might lose it." He said officials discussed the law requiring that Congress get a 30-day notice of detainee exchanges but said the Justice Department told them that in such extreme circumstances President Barack Obama had the constitutional authority to forego the notice. (Associated Press )