Hunter wants Pentagon leading effort to free captured soldier

The Pentagon should take the lead on the U.S. effort to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was taken captive in Afghanistan in 2009, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said Thursday.

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Hunter wrote a letter to President Obama saying he’s concerned that the State Department’s preference of a prisoner swap with the Taliban could “undermine Defense Department kinetic and non-kinetic planning and create a false all-or-nothing proposition.”

“The Defense Department remains in as good a position, if not better, to secure Bergdahl’s release,” Hunter wrote.

Hunter, a retried Marine, has pressed the Obama administration to streamline its efforts to free Bergdahl, who is the only U.S. service member in captivity.

He pressed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month to appoint a senior defense official to coordinate the government efforts on Bergdhal, and has requested information on what non-military options through the Pentagon could be available.

In his letter to Obama Thursday, Hunter asked if the prisoner swap was “still considered a viable course of action.”

The Obama administration is reportedly prepared to offer the release of five members of the Afghan Taliban at Guantánamo Bay for Bergdhal, but the White House has said there are no active negotiations with the Taliban. 

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