Defense Sec. Hagel: ‘We Didn’t Negotiate with Terrorists’

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Meet the Press’ David Gregory that the United States did not negotiate with terrorists in its exchange of five Guantanamo Bay detainees for the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and that he didn’t believe other terrorist groups would be emboldened by the government’s actions to go after American service members.

“First of all, we didn’t negotiate with terrorists,” Hagel said. “Sergeant Bergdahl is a prisoner of war. That’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back. Second, we are dealing with terrorism and hostage taking all the time everywhere. I think America’s record is pretty clear on going after terrorists, especially those who take hostages, and I don’t think what we did in getting our prisoner of war released in any way would somehow encourage terrorists to take our American service men prisoner or hostage.”

RELATED: Candy Crowley Presses Rice on Prisoner Exchange: ‘Did U.S. Negotiate With Terrorists?’

Hagel assured Gregory that the five detainees would not have been released if they posed a significant threat to American security interests.

“We do have responsibilities that we don’t let anyone out of Guantanamo, and I will not sign off on any detainee coming out of Guantanamo, unless I am assured, unless our government assured, our country can be assured that we can sufficiently mitigate any risk to America’s security,” Hagel said.

Watch the clip below, via NBC News:

[Image via screengrab]

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