Hagel, Miller spar over Bergdahl swap

Rep. Jeff MillerJefferson (Jeff) Bingham MillerWe need to focus on veterans in need of service dogs For-profit college debate highlights VA's problematic history of paternalism 40 Trump-connected lobbyists secured over B in coronavirus relief for clients: report MORE (R-Fla.) on Wednesday went on the offensive against Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelHillicon Valley: Democrats request counterintelligence briefing | New pressure for election funding | Republicans urge retaliation against Chinese hackers National security leaders, advocacy groups urge Congress to send election funds to states The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations MORE over the reasons why Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is being held in Germany.

Bergdahl, captured by the Taliban in 2009 and released back to the U.S. last week, has been recovering at a hospital in Germany. Miller pressed Hagel on why Bergdahl couldn't recover in his home country. 

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"You're trying to tell me that he's being held at Landstuhl in Germany because of his medical condition?" Miller asked skeptically.

The Florida lawmaker said that soldiers with injuries of many different severities are usually able to recover in the U.S., which made Hagel defensive.

"I don't like the implications of the question," Hagel shot back.

The Obama administration and Defense department has been under scrutiny for the Bergdahl exchange, which freed the Army sergeant in exchange for five Taliban detainees. Miller pressed Hagel on whether Bergdahl could return to the U.S. to be questioned about his captivity, but Hagel deflected the idea over concerns for the soldier's health. 

"This isn't just about a physical situation congressman," Hagel said. "This guy was held for almost five years under God-knows-what kind of condition… this is not just about can he get on his feet and walk to his plane.

"I'm telling you that the medical professionals who we rely on their judgment for his health, which I assume everyone respects, will make the determination that when he is ready to move to the next step, then we can proceed."