U.S. Military: Afghanistan Releasing 65 ‘Dangerous Insurgents’ Against Our Wishes

Some of the soon-to-be-freed prisoners have killed or wounded U.S. soldiers, the military says.

Army soldiers carry an injured soldier who was shot in the leg, through a poppy field on April 24, 2011 in the Arghandab River Valley, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
National Journal
Sara Sorcher
Feb. 12, 2014, 8:52 a.m.

The U.S. mil­it­ary con­demned the Afghan gov­ern­ment for over­rid­ing its ob­jec­tions and mov­ing for­ward with plans to free 65 de­tain­ees it be­lieves are dan­ger­ous and pose a ser­i­ous threat to the lives of co­ali­tion and loc­al Afghan troops.

De­tain­ees from this group of 65, cur­rently be­ing held at an Afghan de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity in Par­wan, are ex­pec­ted to be re­leased Thursday, the U.S. mil­it­ary in Afgh­anistan said in a state­ment.

Some of these de­tain­ees, the mil­it­ary said, are dir­ectly linked to at­tacks that have killed or wounded U.S. or co­ali­tion per­son­nel, Afghan se­cur­ity per­son­nel, or loc­al ci­vil­ians, and are con­sidered quite dan­ger­ous. One is a sus­pec­ted Taliban ex­plos­ives ex­pert; an­oth­er is a com­mand­er from the Haqqani net­work who is ac­cused of plan­ning at­tacks. “It re­mains the po­s­i­tion of [the U.S. mil­it­ary] that vi­ol­ent crim­in­als who harm Afghans and threaten the peace and se­cur­ity of Afgh­anistan should face justice in the Afghan courts, where a fair and trans­par­ent tri­al would de­term­ine their guilt or in­no­cence,” the mil­it­ary’s state­ment said.

The U.S. mil­it­ary says it provided, on sev­er­al oc­ca­sions, ex­tens­ive in­form­a­tion and evid­ence on each de­tain­ee to Afgh­anistan’s re­view board — which has pre­vi­ously said there was not enough evid­ence against a total group of 88 de­tain­ees to con­tin­ue hold­ing them. In a sep­ar­ate state­ment Tues­day, the U.S. mil­it­ary said the im­pend­ing re­lease would vi­ol­ate agree­ments between the two coun­tries — and that the evid­ence against these de­tain­ees “was nev­er ser­i­ously con­sidered, in­clud­ing by the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al.” Free­ing these de­tain­ees, the mil­it­ary said, “is a ma­jor step back­ward for the rule of law in Afgh­anistan.”

The de­fi­ance of Wash­ing­ton on this is­sue is yet an­oth­er sign of ten­sions between the two coun­tries, since Afghan Pres­id­ent Ham­id Kar­zai backed away from sign­ing a se­cur­ity pact with the U.S. late last year that would clear the way to leave a con­tin­gent of U.S. troops in the coun­try past the 2014 dead­line for the con­clu­sion of com­bat op­er­a­tions.

Na­tion­al In­tel­li­gence Dir­ect­or James Clap­per told the Sen­ate on Tues­day he does not be­lieve Kar­zai is not go­ing to sign that pact. In­stead, it ap­pears the U.S. is go­ing to wait for his suc­cessor to be elec­ted in the spring. The com­ments came as news broke that the U.S. mil­it­ary is re­vis­ing its plans to with­draw troops from Afgh­anistan un­til after Kar­zai leaves of­fice — a re­flec­tion of a need to be prag­mat­ic as hopes wane to fi­nal­ize an agree­ment.

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