Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifying Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee, told lawmakers that the Obama administration could have done a better job communicating with Congress on the decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
"Wars are messy, and they're full of imperfect choices," the defense secretary told the panel in his opening remarks. But he defended the White House decision to make the trade without notifying Congress, and he made it clear the decision came from the top.
"The President's decision to move forward with the transfer of these detainees was a tough call," Hagel said. I supported it. I stand by it. As Secretary of Defense, I have the authority and the responsiblity, as has been noted here, to determine whether detainees ... at Guantánamo Bay can be transfered to the custody of another country. I take that responsiblity, Mr. Chairman, members of this committee, damn seriously. Damn seriously. As I do any responsibility I have in this job."