Hunter asks Hagel to confirm efforts to free Bergdahl

Rep. Duncan Hunter is calling on the Defense Department to confirm that there is a non-military option in the works to free U.S. prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009. 

The request comes after the California Republican sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this week asking him to appoint a senior defense civilian to coordinate all government efforts toward that end, so that different government agencies do not work at cross purposes. 

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The State Department has reportedly considered a prisoner swap, of Bergdahl for five Afghan Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

The Defense Department has military options, but Rep. Hunter said that the State Department should consider whether there is a third, non-military option before moving forward with any deal. 

“My concern is that non-kinetic options under the purview of the Department of Defense might not be fully assessed and given a chance to succeed before a determination is made to initiate the prisoner transfer as reported over the last several days,” Hunter wrote in a letter to Hagel on Thursday. 

“The Department of Defense is rightly directing resources and attention to secure Bergdahl’s release, but it remains critical that all options are thoroughly considered before any immediate decision occurs on a 5-1 prisoner swap — as recommended by the Department of State,” Hunter wrote. 

“A simultaneous parallel effort cannot be overshadowed,” a spokesman for Hunter said. “We can’t satisfactorily say that the prisoner swap is the best option.”