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by
Bridget Johnson

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June 10, 2014 - 8:12 am

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said one key questions for administration officials on the Bowe Bergdahl swap will be whether medical professionals reviewed the proof-of-life tape to ascertain that the Army sergeant’s health was in danger.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Defense Department general counsel Stephen Preston are scheduled to testify before McKeon’s committee on Wednesday.

McKeon was in a closed-door House briefing yesterday on the trade of Bergdahl for five Taliban commanders. He called the latest informational sessions hosted by administration officials “disturbing” because the number of people who knew about the swap is “a little inflexible.”

“This is the second briefing I’ve had, and this time they were able to narrow it down to 80 or 90 people from various departments in the administration that knew about this or various parts of this, and yet not one member of Congress was informed,” he told CNN. “And we passed a law last year that said that before they would transfer any prisoners out of Guantanamo, they would give us a 30-day notice. We got the notice Saturday after the exchange was made.”

McKeon said the last question asked at the briefing led administration officials to pin the final greenlighting of the operation on Hagel.

“The answer was Secretary Hagel, which kind of surprised me, because I did see the president out there with the Bergdahls, sounded like he was taking full credit for the operation, and now they are saying that Secretary Hagel made the decision, probably parsing of words or probably maybe now that there’s a little pushback or, I don’t know, I don’t know who’s in charge or who’s making the decisions. It did seem to me that it was the president, and that was the emphasis up until this briefing, and now they are saying Secretary Hagel,” the chairman said.

McKeon added if the administration is throwing out numbers of how many people knew about the leak, “they should be able to tell us the names.”

“My question to them was, if you don’t know who knew, then how could you, if a leak had happened and the sergeant had been killed, how could you go back and find out who leaked?” he said.

In the proof-of-life video that the administration is citing as a justification to go ahead with the swap without notifying Congress, the congressman said Bergdahl was sitting and “just kind of mumbling.”

“If he was talking, the volume wasn’t high enough that I could hear,” he said, adding the video was “very short.”

“I understand that Senator Coburn indicated that he may have been drugged. He is a physician, would be better able to make that judgment. I’m not prepared to make the judgment,” McKeon continued.

“One of the questions I want to ask, though, is, did they have a physician, did they have a psychologist look at this, or did they — somebody just made a decision based on that, or were other reasons for the decision? I really don’t know, that’s why we’re having the hearing, that’s why we’re going to have an investigation into this.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
" I don’t know, I don’t know who’s in charge or who’s making the decisions"

If people like the decision was made by Barry. If they don't, it was someone else. That's how petulant teenagers act.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (6)
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Sounds like Obummer made a preemptive 'toss Hagel under the bus' decision.

How clever is that - throw the RINO in his administration under the bus? Can't fault a guy who didn't make a decision eh?

24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Can you say "Valerie Jarrett," Mr. McKeon? I knew you could...
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
It may fall on The military to save America from a commander in chief
Gone rogue. It's not something wished for and would
Create a constitutional crisis but sometimes extreme circumstances
Require extreme measures. I'm not talking military coup at this
Point but is it too much to ask for the top Brass to stand up and
Speak up for America...or resign in protest?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
" I don’t know, I don’t know who’s in charge or who’s making the decisions"

If people like the decision was made by Barry. If they don't, it was someone else. That's how petulant teenagers act.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep. It's not any more complicated than that.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yet more evidence pointing to the fact that mysterious people working in the shadows of this administration are the ones who are really running the show. Even Hagel is a puppet.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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