Tuesday, January 23, 2018
News Roundup

Hagel, GOP critics clash at tense Bergdahl hearing

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday vehemently defended the deal that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in sharp and at times angry exchanges with Republican lawmakers during the first open hearing on the controversial swap of war prisoners.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, was clearly primed to respond firmly to critics of the June 1 exchange of Bergdahl for five Taliban militants from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Pentagon chief said President Barack Obama's constitutional powers as commander-in-chief gave him the authority to keep Congress in the dark about the deal, ignoring a law requiring that lawmakers receive 30 days' notice of any release of Guantanamo detainees.

While Hagel said there was some risk in freeing the five Taliban, who include the former Afghanistan regime's deputy defense and intelligence ministers, he insisted that the deal contains adequate protections against them harming Americans.

With some of Bergdahl's former platoon members claiming he went AWOL on June 30, 2009, before his capture by the Taliban, Hagel assured lawmakers that the Pentagon will review his mysterious disappearance fully, but only after he recovers from his five-year ordeal as a POW.

Countering claims that U.S. soldiers died looking for Bergdahl, Hagel said he has "seen no evidence that directly links any American combat death to the rescue or finding or search of Sgt. Bergdahl."

The Qatari government brokered the exchange, which requires that the five Taliban stay in Qatar for at least a year. Asked whether they must wear restraints or monitors or are allowed freedom of movement, Hagel said he could provide such details only in a closed hearing.

For all his firmness, Hagel acknowledged the Obama administration had bungled the aftermath of the Bergdahl exchange in its relations with Congress and in public statements.

"We didn't handle some of this right," he told the panel.

Comments
Neil Diamond says he has Parkinson’s, retires from touring

Neil Diamond says he has Parkinson’s, retires from touring

NEW YORK — Neil Diamond is retiring from touring after he says he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Days shy of his 77th birthday, the rock legend is canceling his tour dates in Australia and New Zealand for March. He was on his 50th anniversar...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Today: Death penalty decision coming in Seminole Heights murders

Today: Death penalty decision coming in Seminole Heights murders

TAMPA — Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren is set to announce Tuesday whether he intends to seek the death penalty for the 24-year-old man accused of killing four people southeast Seminole Heights last year. Warren scheduled a 10:30 a.m...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
What you need to know for Tuesday, Jan. 23

What you need to know for Tuesday, Jan. 23

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• Those Monday evening showers could linger to saturate Tuesday morning’s commute, according to 10Weather WTSP. They’ll move out by the afternoon as a cool — not quite a cold —...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: Once again, state education leaders fail this simple test

Romano: Once again, state education leaders fail this simple test

Want to annoy an education leader in Florida?Tell them they’ve turned your child’s school into an assembly line of tiny test takers. Tell them innovation and imagination and excitement are rapidly disappearing in favor of teaching to the test.And whe...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Pinellas to look at high school start times today

Pinellas to look at high school start times today

Pinellas County school district officials have spent weeks analyzing bus routes and brainstorming ideas to see if later high school start times could be a reality this August.Today will tell how far they have come.Clint Herbic, associate superintende...
Updated: 9 hours ago
What’s your most romantic food story? We want to hear it

What’s your most romantic food story? We want to hear it

Calling all romantic foodies: We want to hear about your tales of love and food. For Valentine’s Day this year, we’re looking into some famously adorable dishes, like Engagement Chicken, a roast chicken first published in Glamour magazine in 2004 tha...
Published: 01/23/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blackhawks

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blackhawks

CHICAGO — Turns out, Andrei Vasilevskiy is all right.And, believe it or not, so is the Lightning’s penalty kill, which was the unlikely hero in Monday’s streak-snapping 2-0 win over the Blackhawks at the United Center.Vasilevskiy, 23, played like the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Back to work: Government shutdown ending as Dems relent

Back to work: Government shutdown ending as Dems relent

New York TimesWASHINGTON — Congress brought an end to a three-day government shutdown on Monday as Senate Democrats buckled under pressure to adopt a short-term spending bill to fund government operations without first addressing the fate of young un...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Male bicyclist struck, killed by vehicle in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK — A male bicyclist was struck and killed by a vehicle on U.S. 19 on Monday night, according to Pinellas Park police.The incident took place at about 8:30 p.m. along the 8000 block of U.S. 19 N, near the Walmart Supercenter.The driver wa...
Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 22

Monday’s scoreboardBoys soccerPalm Harbor U. 3, Clearwater 0Boca Ciega 3, Indian Rocks Christian 1Girls soccerClass 4A, District 10: Countryside 7, Clearwater 0; Dixie Hollins 2, East Lake 0Class 3A, District 10: Osceola 14, Gibbs 0...
Updated: 8 hours ago