Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the focus of an investigation into alleged delayed treatments and deaths in the Veterans Administration's health care system should be to "fix the problem" rather than dump VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

But Hagel also says, quote, "there does have to be accountability, right up and down the line."

In a CBS News interview, Hagel says it's premature to fire Shinseki, saying "I've known him a long time."

Hagel adds the government has "no higher responsibility" than to take care of its veterans.

He says, "We know things went wrong. Somebody's got to be accountable here, like in any institution."

President Barack Obama said earlier in the week that veterans deserve adequate treatment and said he intended to get to the bottom of what went wrong.