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House panel to investigate prisoner swap

WASHINGTON — The House Armed Services Committee will investigate the Obama administration’s swap of an American prisoner held for five years for five Taliban figures that caused a political firestorm over the lack of congressional notification and fears the high-level Taliban could return to the Afghanistan battlefield.

‘‘We ought to look at the price,’’ Representative Howard ‘‘Buck’’ McKeon, Republican of California and chairman of the panel, told reporters after administration officials held a tense 90-minute, closed-door briefing for House Democrats and Republicans.

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Officials from the White House, State and Defense departments, and the intelligence community defended the exchange of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, captured in June 2009 in Afghanistan after he disappeared from his infantry unit, for five Taliban militants from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In the week since the deal, lawmakers have raised questions about whether Bergdahl was a deserter and whether the United States gave up too much for his freedom. Republicans emerged from the Monday night session incensed that 80 to 90 people in the government knew about Bergdahl’s release ahead of time and not one member of Congress got a head’s up.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will testify Wednesday before the Armed Services Committee.

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