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Monday, June 2, 2014

Taliban Statement Boasting ‘Victory’ Regarding Afghan War POW’s Release Raises Serious Questions

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Mullah Mohammad Omar, the former Taliban leader of Afghanistan released a statement, according to AFP, describing the negotiated release of 5 Guantanamo Bay detainees as a big win. The statement:

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation, all the mujahideen and to the families and relatives of the prisoners for this big victory regarding the release of five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo prison.
I thank the government of Qatar, especially its emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad (Al Thani), who made sincere efforts for release of these leaders and for their mediation and for hosting them.

The implication is that the value of the 5 Taliban prisoners is very high.
Concerns about the nature of the prisoner swap were voiced in a joint statement issued yesterday from Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA), members of the Senate and House Armed Services committees:

Like all Americans, we celebrate the release of Sergeant Berghdal from terrorist captivity. When one of our own comes home to us, we all rejoice. We are relieved that the ordeal and sacrifice of the Bergdahl family has come to a happy conclusion.
In the days ahead however, we must carefully examine the means by which we secured his freedom. America has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason. Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Berghdal’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.

Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk.

In executing this transfer, the President also clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress thirty days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay and to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated. Our joy at Sergeant Berghdal’s release is tempered by the fact that President Obama chose to ignore the law, not to mention sound policy, to achieve it.
Was this negotiated release unwisely done in order to gain political points for the President? If these detainees were as important as the Taliban indicates, can we be sure that they will be kept in Qatar as promised?

Why and how was the CIA station chief in Kabul outed just a week prior to this big announcement? Was Bergdahl in fact a deserter, as some fellow soldiers have asserted? Hopefully, answers to these questions will be immediately forthcoming. What questions does this news raise in your mind?

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