Dick Morris: Prisoner Swap Likely Part of Larger Negotiation

Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 01:21 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release in exchange for five senior members of the Taliban was likely part of broader talks taking place "directly or indirectly" between the White House and the Taliban to negotiate how the United States will peacefully exit Afghanistan, says political analyst Dick Morris.

Morris told hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum" that the president is probably trying to avoid a repeat of what happened when the United States pulled out of Vietnam.

"The memory of helicopters taking off from the roof of our embassy in Saigon with desperate Vietnamese clinging to the skids of the helicopter to try to hang on as it took off is seared into America's consciousness," Morris said Wednesday.

"I don't think that Obama wants to repeat that. He left Iraq under the illusion of victory. It's since fallen apart, but at least it wasn't an embarrassing moment. He doesn't want that embarrassment in Afghanistan."

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There's no way to predict whether it will be a "choreographed withdrawal," Morris said, though he says that's what President Barack Obama is gunning for, with the end game being that Taliban forces are not shooting at U.S. troops as they withdraw.

Obama is trying to "negotiate a withdrawal that would be what we would characterize as with dignity," he said.

Obama's decision to swap five terrorists for a U.S. soldier with questionable motives was a bad move, Morris said, adding that information has surfaced that after Bergdahl’s capture, ambushes on U.S. forces by the Taliban became "more accurate and more deadly, and the ambushes occurred much more regularly."

"We've exchanged five terrorists who can do us great harm, and we know that at least one-third of the releasees from Guantanamo went back into the field against us, in return for somebody who at best was a deserter and at worst was a traitor," he said.

U.S. Special Forces recovered Bergdahl over the weekend in a pre-arranged exchange for the five Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama has said the deal was brokered through the government of Qatar, which has assured the United States that the men will be under a travel restriction for a year.

A question remains about what will happen to the remaining Gitmo prisoners, Morris said.

"Traditionally, when a war is over, POWs get released, sent back to their native country," he said. "The Afghanis just give them their rifle back. We have not addressed the issue yet of whether we are going to empty Guantanamo when we leave Afghanistan, but that would probably be a major issue that the Taliban would insist on, and the release of these five guys may be a gesture of good faith that the United States would move in that direction."

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