Why We Need Guantanamo

The Military Times reported yesterday that the five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo who were released in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl have joined the insurgent group’s political office in Qatar.

The article reports:

They will now be among Taliban representatives negotiating for peace in Afghanistan, a sign some negotiators in Kabul say indicates the Taliban’s desire for a peace pact.

Others fear the five, all of whom were close to the insurgent group’s founder and hard-line leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, bring with them the same ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam that characterized the group’s five-year rule that ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion.

The article details some of the history of the five former prisonersL

But there are some among the five who have a disturbing past.

Human Rights Watch accused Mohammed Fazl, the former Taliban army chief arrested in 2002, of overseeing the deaths of thousands of minority Shiites in 2000. The massacre outraged the world and followed the killing the year before of an estimated 2,000 young ethnic Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan by Taliban rivals.

Another of the five is Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former governor of Herat province, who was close to both Taliban founder Mullah Omar and al- Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Khairkhwa also had a friendship with former president Hamid Karzai.

The others include Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy intelligence minister, Mullah Norullah Nori, once described as the most significant Taliban leader held at Guantanamo Bay because of his particularly close relationship with Mullah Omar, who fought U.S.-led coalition forces in northern Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif and Mohammad Nabi Omari, a Taliban communications officer.

All five are from southern Afghanistan, the Taliban’s heartland.

Releasing these men from Guantanamo makes as much sense as releasing an unrepentant serial murderer. The only thing releasing them accomplished was to put American troops in danger.

The Story From Someone Who Was There

First of all, I need to say that I am glad that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is safe and on his way home. However, the more we learn about this deal, the worse it looks.

Today The Daily Beast posted a story by one of the people who was on the scene during the disappearance and aftermath of Sgt. Bergdahl.

Nathan Bradley Bethea reports:

I served in the same battalion in Afghanistan and participated in the attempts to retrieve him (Sgt. Bergdahl) throughout the summer of 2009. After we redeployed, every member of my brigade combat team received an order that we were not allowed to discuss what happened to Bergdahl for fear of endangering him. He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth.

…The next morning, Bergdahl failed to show for the morning roll call. The soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Blackfoot Company discovered his rifle, helmet, body armor and web gear in a neat stack. He had, however, taken his compass. His fellow soldiers later mentioned his stated desire to walk from Afghanistan to India.

The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey later wrote that “[w]hether Bergdahl…just walked away from his base or was lagging behind on a patrol at the time of his capture remains an open and fiercely debated question.” Not to me and the members of my unit. Make no mistake: Bergdahl did not “lag behind on a patrol,” as was cited in news reports at the time. There was no patrol that night. Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted. I’ve talked to members of Bergdahl’s platoon—including the last Americans to see him before his capture. I’ve reviewed the relevant documents.

That’s what happened.

Please follow the link above to the article to read the entire story. The article explains how the search for Sgt. Bergdahl cost American lives. The prisoner swap was a really bad idea and will probably put our soldiers at greater risk. However, we need to consider that this may be only an initial step in removing prisoners from Guantanamo.

 

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