Graham Contradicts Obama: 'The War Is Not Over When We Leave Afghanistan'

By Susan Jones | June 4, 2014 | 8:18am EDT


President Barack Obama listens to speeches marking the 25th anniversary of the first partly free elections that led to the fall of communism,in Warsaw, Poland, on June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

( - "This is what happens at the end of wars," President Obama said in Poland on Tuesday, as he defended his decision to swap Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay.

"The war is not over when we leave Afghanistan," Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday: "We're fighting al Qaeda, their affiliates, and people who provide material support, like the Taliban. These people will go back to the fight. President Obama has put Americans at risk all over the planet. And these people will go back to Afghanistan as sure as night follows day."

Graham (R-S.C.), a military lawyer for 31 years, told Fox News that not only is the war ongoing, but the five terrorists Obama released from Guantanamo Bay are not prisoners of war: "They are unlawful enemy combatants, members of a terrorist organization," he said.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked away from his post in Afghanistan, was not a prisoner of war, either, Graham noted. The Pentagon reportedly never listed him as a POW.

Yet in his remarks on Tuesday, President Obama described what he did as a "prisoner exchange."

"We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Sergeant Bergdahl. We saw an opportunity," Obama said in Poland.

"But this is what happens at the end of wars," Obama explained. "That was true for George Washington; that was true for Abraham Lincoln; that was true for FDR; that’s been true of every combat situation -- that at some point, you make sure that you try to get your folks back.  And that’s the right thing to do."

If it's the right thing to do, why didn't the president try to help Americans under fire in Benghazi two years ago, Graham wondered:

"When the president said one of the principles he follows closely is to never leave a man behind on the battlefield, this is the same president who was missing on the night of the Benghazi attack. This is the same president who never picked up a phone and intervened in Libya to try to get our rescue team out of the airport in Benghazi so they could go help the people under siege. This is the same president who will not account for his time during the attack of September 11th, 2012.

"So, if you are really that dedicated to protecting our people, come clean with what you did during the Benghazi attack, Mr. President."

Graham said Obama bypassed Congress -- failing to give 30-day notification of the terrorists' release as required by law -- "because he wanted the result. He wanted last week to be a great week. We're going to be pulling all of our troops out by 2016...And I got the one captive back. He thought everybody would be cheering.

"But when we see these five guys on TV, it reminds every American that radical Islam is our enemy, that he's let our enemy out. And they're going to come back killing Americans just as sure as we are talking about this tonight. The president is disconnected from the fact that radical Islam is a threat to our way of life."

Since 2011, there has been bipartisan opposition to releasing these five Taliban terrorists, Graham said:

"And every time the president asked, we said hell no. (Former Defense Secretary Leon) Panetta said no. (Former Defense Secretary Robert) Gates said no. (Senate Intelligence committee Chair) Dianne Feinstein said no. Lindsey Graham said no. Why would anybody in their right mind release the leaders of the Taliban with American blood on their hand, who have sworn to go back to the fight, to realign with al Qaeda, to attack our country yet again?"

Graham said at the very least, Obama's action was "unwise," if not "unlawful."


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