No, not that notorious right-wing NYC daily, although the New York Post certainly can’t be fans of this decision by Barack Obama, either. That headline on the lead editorial comes from the New York Daily News, which is a skosh to the right of the New York Times, not exactly a demarcation for the boundary of conservative thought in the Big Apple or anywhere else. They endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, but then switched and endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, and today’s editorial might be an argument for why they were correct in doing so. The NYDN isn’t exactly underplaying their outrage, either. Instapundit featured their cover page from today’s paper:
The lead delivers on the headline:
President Obama betrayed the highest obligation of his office — safeguarding national security — in trading five hard-core Taliban for the American serviceman who appears to have deserted in Afghanistan.
The five sworn enemies of the United States are now in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they are free to come and go as they like, beyond the watch of American agents. In just one year, they will be free to return to Afghanistan to fight there and stage terror attacks far beyond that country’s borders.
These facts were known to Obama when he made the deal, and yet he went ahead in irresponsible disregard for lives he has endangered. As the facts have emerged — and more surely will — it has become ever clearer that he lost his presidential compass in the Taliban swap.
And so does the conclusion:
In other words, he wants out so badly that he accepted the Taliban’s terms, regardless of the threat to American security.
He is surrendering without honor.
This is the answer to those who argue that a refusal to trade these five high-ranking Taliban figures meant abandoning all efforts to regain Bowe Bergdahl from captivity. Team Hillary’s reaction today shows clearly that Hillary Clinton didn’t consider it an all-or-nothing enterprise. If this hadn’t worked, what else should we have traded? What would be the limits of the all-or-nothing brigade’s terms? Kabul? A billion dollars?
The NYDN’s outrage is entirely justified when considering just who these five men are. CBS profiled them over the weekend, and pay particular attention to the first figure and his ties:
Khairullah Khairkhwa is the most senior ex-Guantanamo prisoner who comes from “the fraternity of original Taleban who launched the movement in 1994,” according the Afghanistan Analysts Network. He surrendered to President Hamid Karzai’s brother just before he was captured in January 2002. His most prominent position was as governor of Herat Province from 1999 to 2001. He served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and had direct ties to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.
Mullah Norullah Noori served as governor of Balkh Province in the Taliban regime and played some role in coordinating the fight against the Northern Alliance. He was a senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces in late 2001.
Mohammad Fazl commanded the main force fighting the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001 and served as chief of army staff under the Taliban regime. Human Rights Watch says he could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 as the Taliban sought to consolidate their control over the country. Fazl joined the Taliban early, never held a civilian post, and rose through the ranks because of his fighting ability, ending up up as one of their most important and feared military commanders, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.
Abdul Haq Wasiq was the deputy chief of the Taliban regime’s intelligence service and the cousin of the head of the service, Qari Ahmadullah, who was among the Taliban’s founding members, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.
Mohammed Nabi was a Taliban official in Khost Province. He served as chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, Afghanistan, and later worked as a radio operator for the Taliban’s communications office in Kabul.
Besides being a link between the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, Khairkhwa was also a major opium trafficker before the war. Both Fazl and Wasiq have been accused of conducting mass killings and torture before the US invasion. Nabi helped al-Qaeda smuggle missile parts into Pakistan, and was the leader of the Jalaluddin Haqqani network, according to the JTF-GTMO report quoted by Fox News. Noori was a close associate of Mullah Omar and is wanted (along with Fazl) by the UN for crimes against humanity.
These are the men that Obama is “confident” the US can prevent from becoming a threat to the US, and coughed them up in a bad trade that Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and members of both parties and chambers of Congress refused to endorse when the terms were tougher than Obama’s team arranged. That’s quite a high price to pay for cover to close Gitmo. Let’s hope that the political price is all Americans end up paying.
Speaking of covers, here’s another that demonstrates that blowback over this deal isn’t limited to conservative spaces. Mad Magazine published this yesterday:
Mad’s target demo is younger readers — and if this resonates among them, well …