The "out-of-touch" White House staff responsible for planning the Rose Garden ceremony with Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's parents "deeply damaged" President Barack Obama, says political pundit Pat Buchanan, appearing on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."
Buchanan characterized the handling of the swap of Bergdahl for five senior members of the Taliban as a "political and diplomatic debacle of the first order."
"In effect, they've hailed as something of a hero a man whom it was widely known had deserted his post and may have cost the lives of fellow soldiers and then traded him for five veteran killers of the Taliban," Buchanan said Monday.
"The president clearly was unprepared for the reaction, the White House was unprepared for the reaction, the national security adviser, Susan Rice, went out and said he served with honor and distinction and was captured on the battlefield. None of that do we know to be true — none of it — and the White House should have known it."
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Buchanan, who served as communications director for President Ronald Reagan, told hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman, "This is not an accidental thing."
"This is something that was prepared and preplanned and scheduled, and remarks were written for it, and the idea that the president could walk out there oblivious to what actually happened, it's an utter failure up and down the line of the White House staff, and frankly, I blame them as much or more than I blame the president of the United States."
Buchanan also expressed harsh criticism for Secretary of State John Kerry for telling the American people that "it's a lot of baloney" that the Taliban five will return to terrorism.
"John Kerry knows better," Buchanan said. "These people are veterans. The president himself said any number of those we have already released from Guantanamo have turned up on battlefields as causalities and involved in fights with Afghans and Americans and others.
"Some of them, I understand, have turned up in Syria. There's a real probability that these fellows will be back in battle in the not-too-distant future when they get out of Doha, or Qatar."
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