Monday, January 6, 2014

Afghanistan: Release of 88 prisoners vindicates Obama's policy of detainee transfer, HEH....

US officials are reportedly unhappy with the Afghan government's recent announcement that it will soon release 88 prisoners from a jail that was recently transferred to Afghan control. However, I would assume that these US officials do not include members of the Obama administration because President Obama is a big fan of closing down US detention facilities and handing over the prisoners to foreign governments.

As the President recently explained in a statement issued upon signing a recent bill: "Since taking office, I have repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with my Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The continued operation of the facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners... Section 1035 of this Act gives the Administration additional flexibility to transfer detainees abroad by easing rigid restrictions that have hindered negotiations with foreign countries and interfered with executive branch determinations about how and where to transfer detainees... The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers."

President Obama is clearly a staunch advocate of handing over prisoners to foreign governments - despite the fact that these governments, at a later date, often free the prisoners. Hence, Mr. Obama can't possibly object to the Afghan government's latest plans. After all, it was Obama who steadfastly adhered to his own stated policies when he transferred over the aforementioned jail filled with prisoners to Afghan control - and now the Afghan government has simply decided to release these prisoners!

Hence, I must assume that members of the Obama administration are not among the US officials who are unhappy with the Afghan government's recent decision, but rather it is members of congress and the US military who have voiced their displeasure with the decision.

Reuters reported on Monday:
Afghanistan will release 88 prisoners as planned even though the United States considers them dangerous and wants them to remain in detention, the board reviewing their cases told Reuters.

The prisoners are being held at a jail at the Bagram air base north of Kabul. The United States only recently transferred the prison to Afghan control after it had become a serious source of tension with the Afghan government.

President Hamid Karzai instructed Afghan intelligence officials to provide the review board with more evidence against the prisoners, after the United States said there was proof of their involvement in the killing of foreign troops and they posed a serious threat to security.

But the head of the review board, Abdul Shakor Dadras, said the evidence did not warrant keeping the prisoners any longer.

"The documents we have seen so far provide no reason to convict them," Dadras told Reuters by telephone late on Sunday.

"Our decision is to release them as soon as possible if there is no incriminating evidence against them."
Sounds like the same kind of arguments the Obama administration has made about Gitmo detainees, who were detained because of their terrorist activities.
The disagreement over the prisoners is a further strain on Afghan-U.S. relations already seriously soured by Karzai's refusal to sign a bilateral security deal to shape the U.S. military presence after most foreign troops leave this year.

U.S. senators in Afghanistan last week pressed the president to stop the release, warning it would irreparably damage relations with the United States.

The planned release has also alarmed many senior Afghan security officials, who often see released prisoners return to the battlefield.
Colonel Dave Lapan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, also voiced his displeasure with the planned detainee release, NBC News reported:
"The Afghan Review Board has exceeded its mandate and ordered the release of a number of dangerous individuals who are legitimate threats and for whom there is strong evidence supporting prosecution or further investigation," said Lapan.

The United States long resisted handing over the facility - because it feared individuals it considered dangerous would be released - but ultimately reached a deal with the Afghan government in early 2013.
Obama's chickens are coming home to roost; he must be smiling right now.....