House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has invited Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to testify next week on the details of the Obama administration’s decision to release five Guantanamo Bay detainees to Qatar, in exchange for the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
While House Republicans have issued several subpoenas against Obama administration officials, McKeon said he has just “invited” Hagel to testify before the committee on June 11.
The hearing will give members of the House a chance to ask several questions that have surfaced about the prisoner swap, including whether it was wise to release five detainees that the administration had said were extremely dangerous, and whether officials broke the law by not giving Congress enough notice about the deal.
“[W]e have a responsibility to both the American people and the troops still in harm’s way in Afghanistan to get to the bottom of this deal with the Taliban,” McKeon said in a release to reporters.
“I am particularly troubled by the release of five senior Taliban leaders, men with the blood of many on their hands, and the implications for our deployed forces,” he said. “I am no less concerned that the Obama administration broke a national security law, passed with bipartisan support and signed by the President, in transferring these detainees. I am eager to receive answers on both counts.”
Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the administration has to assure Congress that the swap will not put Americans in harm’s way when they travel overseas.
Republicans are also asking questions about whether Bergdahl was an Army deserter. While officials said Monday that Bergdahl was captured during armed conflict, they said Tuesday that they were not sure at all how he was captured.
Several press reports have cited troops who served with Bergdahl, and who said he was a deserter.