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House Armed Services chairman vows hearings on deal to release Bergdahl

House Armed Services Committee Chairman  Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.)  in March 2014. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

House Armed Service Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.) said Monday that he will call for congressional hearings on the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity by the Taliban.

Bergdahl was released from Taliban custody Saturday after nearly five years in captivity. In exchange, the U.S. government released five Afghan inmates, including the former head of the Taliban army, who were being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The inmates must stay in Qatar for at least a year.

McKeon promised the hearings in interviews on Fox News and MSNBC.

Lawmakers were not informed about the transfer of the five detainees until after it happened, even as the law requires 30 days notice. The move infuriated some Republicans. Some are also angry about the risks they say it presents to military personnel.

“Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” McKeon and Sen James M. Inhofe (Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a joint statement over the weekend.

Obama administration officials defended the decision Sunday, saying President Obama acted within his power.

"We didn't negotiate with terrorists," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday on "Meet The Press." "In war, things are always dangerous and their are vulnerabilities ... but our record, the United States of America, in dealing with terrorists and hunting down and finding terrorists, is pretty good."

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called for a hearing in the upper chamber.

"With 29 percent of former Guantanamo detainees having reengaged or being suspected of reengaging in terrorism, the administration’s decision to release these five terrorist detainees endangers U.S. national security interests," Ayotte said in a statement.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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