White House Blames Hagel for Bergdahl-Taliban Deal

Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel.
Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel.

It’s hard to play the blame game when the President himself held a press conference in the Rose Garden to announce the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but that isn’t stopping the White House from trying.

In a closed door meeting, administration officials apparently told lawmakers that it was Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, not President Obama, who pulled the trigger on the deal that brought Bergdahl home to America but also freed five of the Taliban’s most dangerous terrorists who had previously been detained at Guantanamo Bay.

The Daily Mail has more:

‘They indicated (it was) Secretary Hagel (who made the final call),’ Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) said after a classified briefing, ABC points out.

‘It was the president of the United States that came out (in the Rose Garden) with the Bergdahls and took all the credit and now that there’s been a little pushback he’s moving away from it and it’s Secretary Hagel?’

Last week, Hagel said the swap was a unanimous decision when speaking to the BBC.

‘It was the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of National Intelligence, Attorney General,’ he said.

‘It was our judgement based on the information that we had that his life, his health were in peril,’ Hagel also told the channel in defense of not giving Congress 30 days’ notice of the plan.

‘Can you imagine if we would have waited or taken the chance of leaks over a 30-day period?’ Hagel said.

Congress was upset to learn on Monday that 80 to 90 people in the Obama administration knew of the exchange – but that no Republicans or Democrats in the House were told.

‘It strikes me as unfortunate that they could have 80 to 90 people in the administration aware of what was happening and not be able to trust a single Republican or Democrat in the House or the Senate,’ Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), said, Reuters points out.

President Obama has been very vigorous in his defense of the deal, which he said he “would do again tomorrow.” Now, it appears the administration may be employing a familiar tactic: downplay and diverting blame. Hagel will likely face a series of hostile questions on Wednesday when he appears before the House Armed Services Committee.

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