Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has suggested that the White House pressured him to speed up the transfer of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. 

“Not everyone at the White House has agreed with how I’ve handled some of this,” Hagel told CNN on Friday regarding his cautious approach to the pace of detainee transfers. 

“I think the press has been pretty clear on that,” Hagel added. 

Asked if he was pressured on the issue, Hagel replied, “We’ve had a lot of conversations.”

Friction between Hagel and President Obama’s tight-knit inner circle was widely reported leading up to November, when Hagel offered his resignation. Hagel and White House officials clashed on key policy initiatives, with Obama’s pivot to combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria representing a major shift from Hagel’s goals at the Pentagon.

{mosads}”Barbara, I’ve been in this town a long time. There’s pressure all the time in every job that comes from a lot of different directions,” Hagel told CNN correspondent Barbara Starr, just two days after his farewell ceremony with Obama.

Hagel said that “of course” there are concerns about releasing anyone from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which Obama has hoped to close, adding “there is no 100 percent guarantee of anything.”

Republicans have blasted the Obama administration for its increased pace of Guantanamo transfers. Obama has released 27 detainees since the Nov. 4 elections, a sharp contrast from the 19 released during the period between 2011 and 2013. Five Yemeni men were released earlier this month, leaving 122 detainees at Guantanamo.

This week the administration faced another wrinkle in the debate over prisoner releases as news emerged that one of the five Taliban detainees released from the facility in a prisoner exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last year may have tried to return to terrorism. 

Hagel held fast in defending the decision Friday, despite reports the Army may charge Bergdahl with desertion for leaving his post in Afghanistan, saying it was “absolutely” the right decision to not leave the sergeant behind. 

Tags Bowe Bergdahl Chuck Hagel Gitmo Guantánamo Bay President Obama

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