After a 45-minute phone call with Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama made the historic announcement on restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were severed in 1961.
In addition to the release of Alan Gross, the American aid subcontractor who spent five years in a Cuban prison, the Cubans released one of their own citizens convicted of spying for the U.S. The spy's identity remains classified. Meanwhile, the U.S. freed three Cuban agents who were a part of a spy network known as "The Cuban Five."
While some lawmakers are criticizing the prisoner exchange, Michael Morell, CBS News senior security contributor and former CIA deputy director, said the U.S. should "absolutely" be making these deals.
"We have number of individuals around the world who are spying on behalf of the United States, who are committing espionage against their own country, and when they agree to do that for us ... we make a commitment to them that we will be with them forever," Morell said Thursday on "CBS This Morning." "And on the very rare occasions when one of them gets caught, we do everything we can to get that person out of jail and to the United States, and we never forget, and in this case, it was 20 years, and we haven't forgotten, and we brought them out - very, very important."
Morell said the Cuban spy was a "very, very significant intelligence asset" for the U.S. government.
"He provided vital information that led to taking apart Cuban spy networks in Florida and ultimately resulted in the arrest of eight individuals for spying for Cuba," Morell said.
Morell said there are a number of steps in re-establishing normal relations with Cuba, including the reconsideration of Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terror.
"In my view, Cuba has not been involved in terrorism for a very, very long time," Morell said. "So an actual looking at the issue should be pretty easy, but it's probably going to get wrapped up in politics."