Utter madness

Thanks to William Teach, I found this article, from The Washington Post:


Secret U.S. program releases high-level insurgents in exchange for pledges of peace

By , Published: May 6, 2012

KABUL — The United States has for several years been secretly releasing high-level detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups, a bold effort to quell violence but one that U.S. officials acknowledge poses substantial risks.

As the United States has unsuccessfully pursued a peace deal with the Taliban, the “strategic release” program has quietly served as a live diplomatic channel, allowing American officials to use prisoners as bargaining chips in restive provinces where military power has reached its limits.

But the releases are an inherent gamble: The freed detainees are often notorious fighters who would not be released under the traditional legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan. They must promise to give up violence — and U.S. officials warn them that if they are caught attacking American troops, they will be detained once again.

There are no absolute guarantees, however, and officials would not say whether those who have been released under the program have later returned to attack U.S. and Afghan forces once again.

“Everyone agrees they are guilty of what they have done and should remain in detention. Everyone agrees that these are bad guys. But the benefits outweigh the risks,” said one U.S. official who, like others, discussed the issue on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the program.

The story Mr Teach referenced was magnified by another:


U.S. hostage appeals to Obama in video released by al-Qaeda


WASHINGTON (AP) – In a video released Sunday by al-Qaeda, American hostage Warren Weinstein said he will be killed unless President Obama agrees to the militant group’s demands.

“My life is in your hands, Mr. President,” Weinstein said in the video. “If you accept the demands, I live; if you don’t accept the demands, then I die.”

Weinstein was abducted last August in Lahore, Pakistan, after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home. The 70-year-old from Rockville, Md., is the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a Virginia-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.

In a video message posted on militant websites in December, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri said Weinstein would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. He also demanded the release of all al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects around the world.

Your Editor was strongly reminded of President Reagan’s misguided notion that he could somehow find some “moderate” Iranians with whom to negotiate for the release of American and other Western hostages being held in Lebanon, and that he could trade military weapons for those hostages. Some hostages actually were released, but, in a development which should have surprised no one, more Americans were then abducted to serve as replacement hostages. After all, seizing and holding American hostages now had a concrete value.

And yet another story in today’s news:

Recidivism rises among released Guantanamo detainees

By Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) – The proportion of militants released from detention at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay who subsequently were believed to have returned to the battlefield rose slightly over the last year, according to official figures released on Monday.

In a summary report, the office of the Director of National Intelligence said that 27.9 percent of the 599 former detainees released from Guantanamo were either confirmed or suspected of later engaging in militant activity.

The figures represent a 2.9 percent rise over a 25 percent aggregate recidivism rate reported by the intelligence czar’s office in December 2010.

The increase in the apparent recidivism rate, while not large, comes at a delicate time for President Barack Obama, and could further complicate his attempts to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

As a “confidence building” measure, the Taliban have insisted on the release of five specific Taliban leaders currently held at Guantanamo. The Obama administration has been working on a plan under which the detainees could be transferred to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar but still held in detention.

Your Editor will eschew diplomacy here, and speak very plainly and bluntly: this is madness! We know that at least some of the released Guantanamo prisoners have returned to the battlefield, to fight against the United States. And while the first story noted that “officials would not say whether those who have been released under the program have later returned to attack U.S. and Afghan forces once again,” a recidivism rate of over 25% from the released Guantanamo prisoners strongly suggests that at least some of the prisoners released in Afghanistan have returned to the battlefield. President Obama is commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces, and is ultimately responsible for their safety and security; how many soldiers and Marines have died because of an idiotic policy to release the enemy, captured on the battlefield, back into the war zone?

I’m trying to picture President Roosevelt telling General Dwight Eisenhower to release some of the German troops captured during World War II as some sort of good will gesture, and somehow, I just can’t.

The notion that we can somehow negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban is just as stupid as the notion we could find “moderate” Iranians with whom to negotiate. The idea that we can extract promises from prisoners about to be released that they will make nice and not shoot at Americans again, and that those promises will be kept is one that would be rejected as folly by a freshman — a high school freshman — but is, apparently, some sort of sophisticated wisdom by high ranking officials in the Obama Administration, including the President himself. The final line quoted in the first story is instructive:

“Everyone agrees they are guilty of what they have done and should remain in detention. Everyone agrees that these are bad guys. But the benefits outweigh the risks,” said one U.S. official who, like others, discussed the issue on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the program.

No, he wasn’t discussing the issue “on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the program,” he was discussing the issue on the condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to be publicly identified as a fool. Please tell me just what benefits here outweigh the risks to the soldiers and Marines who are being put at greater risk of being killed by returning enemy fighters to the battlefield.

If I sound angry here, it is because I am. Your Editor has two daughters in the United States Army Reserve, and while they are not deployed to Afghanistan, either or both could be ordered there tomorrow if the needs of the Army require it. Women are not assigned to combat units, though they can be “attached” to such units if required, and female soldiers and Marines have come under fire in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some have died. My daughters knew that there were risks involved in enlisting in the Army, as did John Hitchcock’s daughter, when she served, including fifteen months of duty in Iraq. It is one thing for soldiers and Marines to risk their lives in defense of our country and its missions, when they are under strong, sound leadership that cares for their safety, and puts their safety as paramount as it can be in pursuit of the mission.

It is something else entirely when their commander-in-chief is an idiot.
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Cross-posted on truth Before Dishonor.

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