Top officials dodge deserter questions


ABC US News | ABC International News

 

Top Obama administration officials on Sunday avoided question about whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released by the Taliban in exchange for five detainees on Saturday, deserted the Army. 

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ABC News "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked National Security Adviser Rice whether such allegations would be "investigated."

"If it is found that he did, will he be disciplined or has he already paid the price?" he asked.

"Certainly, anybody who has been held in those conditions in captivity for five years has paid an extraordinary price, but that is really not the point," Rice said. "The point is he's back. He's going to be safely reunited with his family. He served the United States with honor and distinction."

"We'll have the opportunity to learn eventually what happened in the past years,” she added. “But what's most important now is his health and well-being and that he have the opportunity to recover in peace and security and be reunited with his family which is why this is such a joyous day."

Some critics have charged that Bergdahl, a 28-year-old Idaho native, walked away from his base in eastern Afghanistan.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said administration officials were focused on Bergdahl’s safe return, getting him the care he needs and reuniting him with his family.

He did not respond directly when asked by host David Gregory whether there were any red flags about Bergdahl’s disappearance and captivity.

“I'm not surprised that there are still questions, and until we get the facts exactly what the condition of Sergeant Bergdahl is, we can't go much further in speculating,” Hagel said.

“But, you know, this is a guy who probably went through hell the last five years and let's focus on getting him well and getting him back with his family.”

--This report was updated at 1:12 p.m.