Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel fully stands by the decision to exchange five senior members of the Taliban for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, he said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday morning.
"I take this responsibility, Mr. Chairman, members of this committe, damn seriously," Hagel emphasized. "Damn seriously."
He continued, "a fleeting opportunity to protect the life of an American service member held captive and endangered for almost five years; the national security team and the President agreed that we needed to act swiftly."
Hagel said the decision did not come lightly, but does fall within the boundaries of U.S. laws.
"The President and I would not have moved forward unless we had complete confidence that we were acting lawfully in the national interest and the best traditions of our country," Hagel said.
Sgt. Bergdahl was held by the Taliban for nearly five years. The prisoner exchange took place May 31. The five detainees were released from Guantanamo Bay to the Qatari government and will remain there under a one-year travel ban.
Many have come out saying Bergdahl is a deserter and not worthy of such an exchange. However, Hagel made it clear the Sergeant has not been charged with any crimes.