June 11 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says exceptional circumstances led to Washington's decision to swap five Taliban leaders to win the release of Army war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday (June 11) defended Washington's decision to swap five Taliban leaders to win the release of Army war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl, saying the pledge to recover service members in captivity is "woven into the fabric of our nation." "We do whatever it takes to recover any U.S. service member held in captivity," Hagel said. "As the opportunity to obtain Sergeant Bergdahl's release became clearer, we grew increasingly concerned that any delay, or any leaks, could derail the deal and further endanger Sergeant Bergdahl. We were told by the Qataris that a leak would end the negotiations for Bergdahl's release. We also knew that he would be extremely vulnerable during any movement, and our military personnel conducting the hand-off would be exposed to the possible ambush or other deadly scenarios in very dangerous territory we did not control," he said. Hagel said a U.S. Army review would examine the legal issue surrounding the capture of Bergdahl, who has been accused by some of his former comrades of deserting. He said security measures agreed by Qatar, which took the exchanged Taliban leaders, would limit any risk to U.S. citizens.