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Hagel: Gitmo transfers source of friction

Posted by on Jan. 31, 2015 at 1:57 AM
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Hagel: Gitmo transfers source of friction

Disagreements between Hagel, WH have been widely reported

UPDATED 9:34 PM EST Jan 30, 2015

WASHINGTON (CNN) —White House officials pressured Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to increase the pace of detainee transfers from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, the outgoing secretary acknowledged to CNN's Barbara Starr in an interview Friday.

Those comments come just one day after reports surfaced that a Guantanamo detainee released as part of the deal that freed American POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may have sought to return to militant activity.

"Not everyone at the White House has agreed with me," said Hagel of his methodology for deciding on detainee releases.

Disagreements between Hagel and officials in the President's inner circle have been widely reported during his short tenure as secretary of defense. But in his interview with CNN, Hagel spoke with uncharacteristic candor about that friction.

"We've had a lot of conversations," Hagel said.

"With the White House?" Starr pushed back.

"Yes," said Hagel. "And Congress. And the press."

But Hagel also said he isn't fazed by the pressure on the issue of detainee transfers.

"Because I have the responsibility and I play my own game here," he emphasized. "And that is because, by law, I am the one official in government charged with certification of release of detainees. I take that responsibility very seriously."

Debate about detainee transfers was rekindled Thursday when news emerged that one of the five former prisoners freed to Qatar in exchange for Bergdahl's release by the Taliban may have attempted to rejoin the fight by making contact with suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan.

The administration insists that the released detainees are being monitored, and officials remain confident the potential risks are mitigated by the measures they have in place.

In his interview with CNN, Hagel echoed that view, and said he has no regrets about making the deal.

"Absolutely it was the right decision," he said. "It was the right decision ... because we don't leave our troops behind."

"It was a prisoner of war exchange and I'm absolutely as committed to that decision today as when the decision was made." he added. "It was the right decision."

And when the White House ramped up pressure, Hagel said he knew how to take the heat.

Said Hagel: "If you're not prepared to deal with pressure, every day, in the job you're in, coming from a lot of different directions, then you shouldn't be in the job. It's just part of the process, part of any job I think."

Hagel's candor as he prepares to leave the Pentagon was evident on other issues as well.

He was blunt in addressing the budget cuts the military has grappled with in recent years as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan draw to a close.

"I am concerned about the future of our force, the quality of that force," said Hagel, adding that he hears frequently from soldiers who worry they won't have the same career prospects in the military they'd have in the private sector.

About half of those soldiers say they plan to leave the military as a result, he added.

"I don't think Washington understands the depth of that issue because that's a difficult quantifiable issue," Hagel said. "It's not a budget line."

The secretary also addressed the ongoing fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, where the United States is leading an international coalition to take on the terror group.

ISIS poses a threat to U.S. interests, Hagel said, but the problem cannot be solved using military power alone.

"Big societal problems -- historic injustices, conflicts -- don't get solved militarily," said Hagel. "There is a military component to it, of course. But it's going to require -- always does and always will -- political settlements."

And that military component comes with risks, Hagel acknowledged, even when the United States doesn't commit ground combat troops.

"Any time you introduce American military power anywhere in the region ... there's always risk," he said. "There's risk to our people in Iraq, to our people in Afghanistan, to our people who are conducting strikes in Syria."

It's a risk the secretary understands well, having been a soldier during the Vietnam War.

"I think it has helped me a tremendous way to connect with second- and third-level issues of the men and women and their families who make the sacrifices," Hagel said of his experience in the military. "I think I understand it."

"It doesn't mean I'm any better," he added. "It doesn't mean I'm any smarter. But I think I understand it maybe in ways that I might not otherwise unless I had served."

From soldier to secretary of defense -- it's a transition even Hagel could not have imagined for himself during his time in uniform.

"Had I been told 48 years ago when I joined the Army I would end up being secretary of defense," he said, "I just would have laughed."


by on Jan. 31, 2015 at 1:57 AM
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143myboys9496
by Silver Member on Jan. 31, 2015 at 2:02 AM
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"Because I have the responsibility and I play my own game here," he emphasized. "And that is because, by law, I am the one official in government charged with certification of release of detainees. I take that responsibility very seriously."

Hmmmm....Do I hear the paper rustling of another EO?

143myboys9496
by Silver Member on Jan. 31, 2015 at 2:05 AM
2 moms liked this

blondekosmic15
by Gold Member on Jan. 31, 2015 at 5:06 PM
2 moms liked this

The only time Obama has been truthful. He promised to change America. He certainly has fulfilled his promise. I don't recognize the country I love anymore. 2 more years of chaos, destruction to America.

I'm being sarcastic here but I think the Obama admin should invite these hard core terrorists, released from Gitmo, to live in the WH with him and his likeminded advisors since he has such faith they will not enter the battlefield & kill Americans esp our soldiers.

blondekosmic15
by Gold Member on Jan. 31, 2015 at 5:10 PM
2 moms liked this

quote>


Disagreements between Hagel and officials in the President's inner circle have been widely reported during his short tenure as secretary of defense. But in his interview with CNN, Hagel spoke with uncharacteristic candor about that friction.

Beware anyone who disagrees with Obama will be forced out or severely reprimanded.

143myboys9496
by Silver Member on Jan. 31, 2015 at 8:59 PM
1 mom liked this

Isn't that why Panetta left? 

I mean, that was MY impression....

Quoting blondekosmic15:

quote>

Disagreements between Hagel and officials in the President's inner circle have been widely reported during his short tenure as secretary of defense. But in his interview with CNN, Hagel spoke with uncharacteristic candor about that friction.

Beware anyone who disagrees with Obama will be forced out or severely reprimanded.


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