The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

June 6, 2014

Concern for Bergdahl's safe return led to secrecy

(Continued)

Not everyone in Congress was convinced.

"I don't believe any of this," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "First, we had to do the prisoner deal because he was in imminent danger of dying. Well, they saw the video in January and they didn't act until June. So that holds no water. Now the argument is the reason they couldn't tell us is because it jeopardized his life. I don't buy that for a moment because he was a very valuable asset to the Taliban."

Hagel, in France wrapping up a nearly two-week trip to Asia and Europe, was being kept up to date on the Bergdhal matter and was scheduled to testify to Congress after he returns to Washington.

"The secretary knows there are questions from members of Congress about this decision to bring Sergeant Bergdahl home," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Friday. "He looks forward to testifying next week and to answering those questions."

Bergdahl was undergoing comprehensive medical evaluations at a military hospital in Germany. His hometown of Hailey, Idaho, called off a celebration planned for his homecoming, citing security concerns amid heated criticism of the young soldier and his actions before and during his capture.

Several administration and congressional officials said the latest Bergdahl video, which was shown to senators in the closed briefing, portrayed his health as in decline but not so desperately that he required an emergency rescue. An assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies about the video came to the same conclusion, said two congressional officials familiar with it.

Still, the administration continued to cite the health issue.

"We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about," Obama said. "And we saw an opportunity and we seized it."

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