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Did the Obama administration try to pay a ransom to win Sgt. Bergdahl's release?

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Taliban proposed a deal in which they would free the U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their most senior operatives at Guantanamo Bay, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai eased his opposition Thursday June 20, 2013 to joining planned peace talks. (Image source: AP)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) this week said he has evidence that the Obama administration may have tried to pay off Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's captors in exchange for his release, in violation of the law.

Hunter wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday saying that he has become aware of an attempt by the govenrment to make a payment, even though other officials have said that didn't happen.

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Taliban proposed a deal in which they would free the U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their most senior operatives at Guantanamo Bay, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai eased his opposition Thursday June 20, 2013 to joining planned peace talks. (AP) This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Taliban proposed a deal in which they would free the U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their most senior operatives at Guantanamo Bay, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai eased his opposition Thursday June 20, 2013 to joining planned peace talks. (AP)

"[I]t has been brought to my attention that a payment was made to an Afghan intermediary who 'disappeared' with the money and failed to facilitate Bergdahl's release in return," he wrote to Hagel. "The payment was made in January-February 2014, according to sources, through Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)."

"Given the significance of this matter, as well as the fact that Pentagon officials have denied that a payment was even considered, and you also said you were unaware of any such attempt, I ask that you immediately inquire with JSOC to determine the specific order of events," he wrote.

Bergdahl's release was harshly criticized by Republicans, in large part because he was traded for five Taliban soldiers that were being held in Guantanamo Bay. Some Republicans said that trade alone amounted to negotiating with the terrorists who were holding Bergdahl, something the U.S. is not supposed to do over fears that it would only encourage more kidnappings.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration released another detainee, and said that release was part of its broader plan to close the facilities in Guantanamo Bay. But while Obama has that as a goal for his last two years in office, Republicans in Congress are expected to continue fighting that effort.

Read Hunter's letter here:

One last thing…
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