On Monday’s “The Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel, former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized the Obama administration’s move to swap five Taliban prisoners for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl just on the merits that it was a bad deal.
Transcript as follows:
CHENEY: I do on both counts, I think President Bush was right on. I think they have in fact negotiated with terrorists and I don’t think they got a very good deal. As we look at it Megyn, what transpired here, it’s sort of part and parcel of a larger policy that we’re in the mist of withdrawal from Iraq without leaving and stay behind forces there, there are no U.S. forces there today. We’re getting ready to withdrawal completely from Afghanistan. We’re retreating from the area, and this so-called trade with — for Bergdahl with five of the top Taliban terrorists that strikes me as part and parcel of that same unwise policy.
KELLY: Why? I mean, because for the folks sitting at home, they think it’s an American. He was a prisoner or hostage. Whatever you want to call it. But he was under their control. Why not do what we need to do to get him home?
CHENEY: Well, apparently, I don’t know the whole story. I’m just following the news reports of this for him, that he left voluntarily, that he left his post, he was able in effect that there were lives of American troops put at risk in their search for him after he was taken and now we’re in a situation where we have released five of the top terrorists that we held at Guantanamo in order to bring him home. Now I’m glad for his family. Everybody is obviously pleased that’s transpired in here. But I think if we analyze the situation very carefully, we violated basic tenant first of all, in negotiating with terrorists but secondly, in releasing five of the most deadly terrorists that we had at Guantanamo.
KELLY: Do you believe the President has endangered the country?
CHENEY: I think there is a distinct possibility that these five will in fact go back into the battle. When you have people this highly motivated, the deputy Taliban commander for the fans, the deputy and their Intelligence Bureau, these are the people that are most likely to go back and once again launch strikes or attacks against Americans against our friends and allies in the region. I think the odds are that they will in fact do that and we’ll end up paying another kind of price because of the transaction that’s been negotiated here.
KELLY: Is this likely to be use in your experience as some sort of propaganda tool? Because we’ve already seen video of these, you know, terrorists sympathizers celebrating at this deal.
CHENEY: I think it will. I think we got to remember what Osama bin Laden’s objective was when we got into all this and he launched his attack on 9/11 on the United States and killed 3,000 Americans, it was to get the U.S. out of the Middle East. And that in fact is occurring. Obama is acting like the war is over but of course it’s over without us having won it. In Afghanistan there are still significant problems. There ought to be a state of Hind force there. But it looks like Obama is leading without any training element or any other kind of arrangement that will allow us to aid the new Afghan government. Indeed he’s releasing enemies of whatever government is in power in Afghanistan and making the situation more difficult for them, not less difficult.
KELLY: Talk to us about the optics of this as somebody who worked in the White House for so many years. The White House has come under some criticism today because Bowe Bergdahl’s story obviously does have some questions. He sent out some, very, you know, anti-American messages prior to being held captive, and then his father has sent out, you know, interesting tweets on his twitter feed and this may just be a man distressed trying to get his son back but he’s certainly sent out some tweets that have caught the attention of many including, “I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, Amen,” he writes. And then that’s been deleted. That man stood next to our president in the Rose Garden at the announcement of this deal and spoke in Arabic. Here is just a clip of that for the viewers who missed it.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
KELLY: Moments later, he and the President are shaking hands and hugging. Some are expressing disbelief that the White House put the president in a position like this. Is there any problem with that as far as you see? Do you see this just as a distressed father and a president appropriately embracing him?
CHENEY: Well, I think there is a certain extent to which you’ve got to understand the pressures that are on a parent to try to help their child who is in captivity, but I think the whole transaction represents really bad staff work. I’d be very, very careful before you run the president out to sort of claim victory at having earned the release of somebody who in effect went AWOL apparently, and left his post. So if I were there, I would not have supported the transaction, and I would have been, I think, made effort to make certain the president didn’t get exposed in a way that ultimately could be very embarrassing.
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