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Obama To Give 5 Top Terrorists To Taliban

From the prestigious magazine, Foreign Policy:

Exclusive: Taliban Gitmo deal is swap for a Westerner

Posted By Josh Rogin
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The pending deal to move senior Taliban figures from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Qatar is part of a trade for the return of a Western prisoner, according to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The Obama administration’s plan to move five top Taliban officials to live under house arrest in Qatar has been extensively reported but never openly discussed by administration officials. And until Feinstein confirmed it to The Cable, the fact that the crux of the deal is a swap for a Westerner had never been publicly disclosed.

So is Obama now officially negotiating with terrorists, with hostage takers.

Which, lest we forget, Obama said he would never do when he suggested that the Republicans in Congress were ‘hostage takers.’ While Joe Biden called the same lawmakers ‘terrorists.’

"That’s the framework of the exchange. But it’s presented as a confidence-building measure," Feinstein said. "We are giving up people who killed a lot of people, people who were head of major efforts of the Taliban."

Exactly who confidence are we trying to build here? It sure sounds like it is the confidence of our enemy, the Taliban.

Feinstein said the deal involved the trade of one Westerner for the five Taliban leaders. She also confirmed the name of the Westerner in question, but The Cable has agreed to withhold that name at the request of U.S. officials out of concern for his safety.

He must be a reporter. When has the news media kept such information confidential otherwise?

Under the deal, the United States would reportedly place the Taliban officials under the responsibility of the Qatari government, where they would ostensibly remain under some degree of supervision and imprisonment.

Uh huh. And we believe this, too.

According to reports, the prisoners being considered for transfer include Mullah Khair Khowa, a former interior minister; Noorullah Noori, a former governor in northern Afghanistan; and former army commander Mullah Fazl Akhund.

But Feinstein said she opposes it.

"These are major Taliban figures, they are not minor people. And they will not be in the same kind of custody, maximum-security custody. Forget that it won’t be Guantánamo, just maximum-security custody," she said. "And in my view, there’s no way of knowing what they may do and what kind of propaganda they may breed."

There is no doubt that they will soon be released and hailed as heroes.

Feinstein said the timing of the deal, with the Taliban still actively engaged against Western forces on the battlefield, was particularly problematic. "To do this as just a confidence-building measure without any acceptance by the Taliban of any rules or agreements or anything else, and at a time when the Taliban are still carrying out raids, planting IEDS, still killing people…. I think if you’re able to achieve with the Taliban an agreement then it wouldn’t be as horrible as it is," Feinstein said.

The administration has sought hard to preserve the secrecy around the prisoner trade, and administration officials won’t confirm any of the details publicly

Why? What purpose does this secrecy serve, except to keep people from being outraged by what Obama is doing?

On Jan. 31, top administration officials briefed eight senators on the deal, including Feinstein. The other senators invited to that classified briefing were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Intelligence Committee ranking Republican Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Senate Armed Services chiefs Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), and Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN).

In a brief interview Tuesday, Levin declined to comment in any way on the trade. But he did say that he was opposed to any Taliban transfers unless it was part of a peace process.

That is some objection, since everything can be said to be part of a peace process.

McCain, in his own brief Tuesday interview with The Cable, said that a prisoner swap wasn’t necessarily a bad idea in principle. But he poured cold water on the notion of linking any such swap to peace talks with the Taliban.

"If it’s intended to be a ‘confidence-building measure,’ that is an extreme measure. If it’s a swap, it’s worthy of consideration of Congress, if that is the premise of it," said McCain, a former prisoner himself. "But they’re doing it as a ‘confidence-building measure.’ That’s not confidence building."

McCain can’t even be as tough minded as Dianne Feinstein.

Here is the US military’s assessment of the three detainees named in the article to be included in the swap:

Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, Herat governor and acting interior minister. Khairkhwa is “directly associated to Usama Bin Laden (UBL) and Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Muhammad Omar” and was “trusted and respected by both.” After 9/11 he “represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against US and Coalition forces” and “attended a meeting at the direction of UBL, reportedly accompanied by members of HAMAS.” He is “one of the premier opium drug lords in Western Afghanistan” and was likely “associated with a militant training camp in Herat operated by deceased al-Qaida commander (in Iraq) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”

Mullah Norullah Noori, governor-general of Afghanistan’s northern zone. Noori “is considered one of the most significant former Taliban officials detained at JTF-GTMO” who “led troops against US and Coalition forces” and “was directly subordinate to Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar.” He “is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes,” is “associated with members of al-Qaida,” and is assessed “to be a hardliner in his support of the Taliban philosophy.” He “continues to be a significant figure encouraging acts of aggression and his brother is currently a Taliban commander conducting operations against US and Coalition forces…. Detainee would likely join his brother if released.”

Mullah Mohammed Fazl, deputy defense minister. Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes while serving as a Taliban Army Chief of Staff and … was implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan during the Taliban reign.” He has “operational associations with significant al-Qaida and other extremist personnel,” was “involved in Taliban narcotics trafficking,” and is so senior in the Taliban hierarchy that he once threatened the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar. Military officials assess that Fazl wields “considerable influence throughout the northern region of Afghanistan and his influence continued even after his capture” adding, “If released, [Fazl] would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with anti-Coalition militias (ACM) participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”

So how many American lives with this deal eventually cost? And to accomplish what?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Obama To Give 5 Top Terrorists To Taliban”

  1. Astravogel says:

    Is Feinstein on the Committee as
    a participant or a negative exhibit?

    • JohnMG says:

      I think we should tell teh Taliban to STFU or we’ll give them Feinstein instead.

      Well, on second thought, we can’t do that since we don’t believe in committing terrorist acts.

  2. canary says:

    The idea is the nicer gitmo prisoners who play video games in their 3 to a condo, and speak via-internet to their families, and play soccer, will gain hope that they will surely be released, if the American’s let the more dangerous terrorists out….

    …..Or they may think playing soccer which offends their god allah has led to their still be in prison while the more violent prisoners were released by reward from Allah.

    Last election McCain condemned the water-boarding, not understanding it was not the same torture tactics and crippling inhumane treatment he experienced while imprisoned and having to eat maggots from his wounds.

    I do believe originally Obama was going to release more Gitmo Prisoners to Qatar. Maybe he dealed the number down after showing the terrorists all the new perks the prisoners are getting.

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