NYT, Afghans wonder: What happened to getting a peace agreement for Taliban 5?

posted at 10:01 am on June 9, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Let’s return to 2011, the last time that the White House formally consulted with Congress on a proposed deal to swap five high-ranking Taliban officials in Gitmo for Bowe Bergdahl. That proposal linked the release to an agreement on the part of the Taliban to stop fighting the elected government in Kabul and integrate themselves politically into the new Afghanistan political environment, as well as much more restrictive conditions on the detainees and a staged release rather than having them all leave American custody at once. The idea was to pre-empt any return to the battlefield by at least giving the Afghan government some space to get the Taliban to act politically rather than through warfare.

Three years later, Barack Obama released them without any conditions from the Taliban. Now the two chairs of the Congressional intelligence committees, the Afghans themselves, and even the New York Times would like to know why:

When the heads of the two major intelligence committees criticized the Obama administration on Sunday for swapping Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five members of the Taliban, they homed in on one part of the deal that the White House has struggled for a week, unsuccessfully, to explain. The question is why the five were released without any commitments to a larger agreement, under which the Taliban would renounce international terrorism, and begin a process of reconciliation with the government of Afghanistan.

That condition had been at the heart of the original discussions with the Taliban about a prisoner swap in 2011 and early 2012. It was abandoned last year, administration officials now say, because the Taliban were no longer interested in a broader deal — probably because the Taliban understood American forces were leaving. Now, both in Afghanistan and in Washington, there are questions about whether the release of the five men gives the Taliban legitimacy, and enhances their power over a weak government in Kabul.

Like the senior members of Congress, Afghan officials said they were caught off guard by the prisoner swap for Sergeant Bergdahl. According to one Afghan security official and another former official who maintains close ties to the presidential palace, many in the Afghan government believed that American officials misled them into thinking that the prisoner swap would not be done unless it was connected to a broader peace effort.

Those questions are especially pointed coming from the Afghans, who didn’t appreciate Obama’s scolding that “this is the way wars end.” One former official told the NYT that this is only the way the war ends for the US while bugging out, not for Afghanistan — which can now expect an even tougher road to peace with these five former commanders in the field. They also questioned why the US did not send them to Kabul to live in a detention facility run by the government and funded by the CIA for just that purpose:

“We would have used them to try to lever another approach to peace,” the former official said. “Could you imagine what it would have done to Taliban morale to see the five come to Kabul and have to live under the Afghan government?”

Instead, the Taliban have five of their leaders back, the United States is bringing its soldier home, and the Afghan government is still grasping for ways to open peace talks with the Taliban, who have shown little interest in talking about a broader resolution to the war.

“What does this say to every Afghan that has spent their entire adult lives fighting violent extremism?” said the former official, who is pro-American. “What does this say to all the Afghans that have already died or that will die next year?

“We find Obama’s language about ‘this is how wars end’ extremely insensitive,” the former official continued. “It ends for Americans. But it’s not ending for Afghans. Their intellectual dishonesty here is astounding,” he said. “If all you want to do is leave, then just say it. We all know it.”

One of the two committee chairs, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), says he’s sure the Taliban 5 will return to Afghanistan, but certainly not under government control. Saying that “we are going to pay for this decision for years,” Rogers says he is convinced that the five will return to the fight just as soon as they are able:


ABC US News | ABC International News

“We have made a serious, serious geopolitical mistake. We’ve empowered the Taliban,” Rogers, R-Mich., told George Stephanopoulos this morning on “This Week.” “The one thing that they wanted more than anything, George, was recognition from the U.S. government so they can use that to propagandize against areas that are unsecure still in Afghanistan. They got all of that.”

Rogers said he is certain the five Taliban members released from Guantanamo to Doha, Qatar, for the next year will use their time to prepare to return to the fight in Afghanistan, as they are free to meet with Taliban political leaders in Doha and can have family members travel to Qatar.

“We believe that’s certainly an opportunity for a courier network, to get them prepared for what’s next,” Rogers said.

“I don’t think you’ll see any operational activity right now by them. They’re smart enough to know better,” Rogers added. “But it allows them to prepare for what’s next. And that’s going to be to join the fight against what Americans are left in Afghanistan in 51 weeks… I am convinced, absolutely convinced of that.”

Rogers said he believes the Obama administration’s willingness to negotiate trading prisoners with the Taliban over Bergdahl’s release may lead to hostage-taking in the Middle East. “We are going to pay for this decision for years,” he said.

Rogers also says that the issue isn’t Bergdahl or Congressional notifications, but the way in which this deal undermines American security and American guarantees to partners in the region. There were other options available, Rogers says, even though the Obama administration keeps insisting there were none. “This administration thinks you’re either with them or for thermonuclear war,” Rogers says derisively about the White House penchant for straw men.


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So Obama lied to the Afghan Government about the swap too?

Johnnyreb on June 9, 2014 at 10:04 AM

because the Taliban were no longer interested in a broader deal

I guess if you don’t want to…no biggee! – Jugears

He just gave in. Great. Don’t want to upset them now. Coward.

Patriot Vet on June 9, 2014 at 10:05 AM

WINNING!!

Tard on June 9, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Related headline – Taliban attack Karachi airport, kill 18 before Islamokazing themselves (their reported goal was to hijack aircraft)

Steve Eggleston on June 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

There are two separate act of treason here, the first is Barack Obama giving aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war, the second is congress choosing to continue bleeding the America people dry rather than Impeaching Obama and charging him with treason.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 10:14 AM

On the one hand, once these five tirds commit some horrific act we will see how effectively the administration dances around responsibility for it.

On the other hand, 0b00ba and his buttkissers will twist in the wind spinning Bowehammed Bergdahl’s reintegration into civilization and whatever that entails legally and socially.

I don’t think they have any idea what a mess they’ve set up for themselves.

Akzed on June 9, 2014 at 10:15 AM

What does this say to every Afghan that has spent their entire adult lives fighting violent extremism?” said the former official, who is pro-American. “What does this say to all the Afghans that have already died or that will die next year?

I was thinking what it says to all our troops who have been fighting extremism and terror for at least the last decade.

scalleywag on June 9, 2014 at 10:17 AM

On the one hand, once these five tirds commit some horrific act we will see how effectively the administration dances around responsibility for it.

On the other hand, 0b00ba and his buttkissers will twist in the wind spinning Bowehammed Bergdahl’s reintegration into civilization and whatever that entails legally and socially.

I don’t think they have any idea what a mess they’ve set up for themselves.

Akzed on June 9, 2014 at 10:15 AM

They are already spinning it by trying to treat Afghanistan like a conventional war i.e., you have to release prisoners after the war is over.

melle1228 on June 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Don’t blame me
-Hillary on the campaign trail

Because……strawmen!!!
-obama

cmsinaz on June 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Hey! Lefties!

Stuff like this is exactly why all of us on the right hate you for being spineless, America-hating cowards when it comes to defending the nation.

These guys are going to kill people in the future, probably Americans, certainly Afghans. When they do, we know you won’t take any responsibility for it.

We hate you for that, too.

Just in advance.

So you know.

trigon on June 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Related headline – Taliban attack Karachi airport, kill 18 before Islamokazing themselves (their reported goal was to hijack aircraft)

Steve Eggleston on June 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

They are merely attempting to gain access to Malaysian Flight MH370, which according to Russian Intelligence sources, is parked somewhere in Pakistan at an airport there.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM

+1 Scalleywag

cmsinaz on June 9, 2014 at 10:23 AM

I have a question…just what DOES the president consult with Congress about these days, anything?

scalleywag on June 9, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Just some more of that “Smart Diplomacy” by ‘the best and brightest administration, evah!’

GarandFan on June 9, 2014 at 10:31 AM

All is going as planned by Jarrett, Obama and the other America haters. Rot you SOB’s.

Deano1952 on June 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

It is rather a blanket statement that the release of “The 5″ will make us pay for years. All it will take is to elect a Republican President that has the will to deal with terrorists the way they deserve to reverse the current trend.

HiJack on June 9, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Bambi to the Taliban:

“Don’t call my bluff!!!”

PackerBronco on June 9, 2014 at 10:34 AM

The 5 are spending their free time adding to the list of who’s heads are coming off.

docflash on June 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM

I’m praying for a “Seven Days in May” event. I just don’t which of our Generals is up to the task. Where’s Burt Lancaster when you need him!

Deano1952 on June 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Steve Eggleston on June 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Saw that. Pakistan supports the Taliban and AQ so it’s surprising the rabid dogs bite the hand that feeds them.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Any why was the Kabul CIA chief outed a week before?

Some pundit speculated on a panel about that.

I would hope that if it was part of the deal, Obama at least gave the guy a chance to leave first.

I would hope.

PattyJ on June 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

All is going as planned by Jarrett, Obama and the other America haters. Rot you SOB’s.

Deano1952 on June 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

This isn’t Europe and their plan will not work out the way they think it will.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM

There two possible reasons for the way this Administration has acted.

1) the 5 Taliban leader have been “chipped” with GPS tracking devices which they hope to use to guide Predator drones to a decisive engagement with the Taliban leadership

2) this Administration is made of the stupidest smart people money can buy

J_Crater on June 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

What happened to getting a peace agreement for Taliban 5?

“Up in Smoke” with Cheech & Choom?

Mark Boabaca on June 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Heh. Obama’s Doctrine: “Don’t do Stupid Sh*t”.

/Derp.

Key West Reader on June 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

There two possible reasons for the way this Administration has acted.

1) the 5 Taliban leader have been “chipped” with GPS tracking devices which they hope to use to guide Predator drones to a decisive engagement with the Taliban leadership

2) this Administration is made of the stupidest smart people money can buy

J_Crater on June 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Obama is just setting his Bro’s free. It’s what Marxist Muslims do for eachother.

Key West Reader on June 9, 2014 at 10:47 AM

There two possible reasons for the way this Administration has acted.

1) the 5 Taliban leader have been “chipped” with GPS tracking devices which they hope to use to guide Predator drones to a decisive engagement with the Taliban leadership

1) this Administration is made of the stupidest smart people money can buy

2) this Administration is made of the stupidest smart people money can buy

J_Crater on June 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

FIFY.

climbnjump on June 9, 2014 at 10:57 AM

You mean the Choom Gang’s lost the Gray Lady, too?

So Obama lied to the Afghan Government about the swap too?

Johnnyreb on June 9, 2014 at 10:04 AM

I’m surprised he even told them about it.

I’m praying for a “Seven Days in May” event. I just don’t which of our Generals is up to the task. Where’s Burt Lancaster when you need him!

Deano1952 on June 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Burt Lancaster was one of the most doctrinaire Lefties in Hollywood; he refused to work with anyone who didn’t meet his Stalinist standards.

The one you would want is the guy who threw down his gauntlet to Col Owen Thursday at Apache Pass.

There two possible reasons for the way this Administration has acted.

1) the 5 Taliban leader have been “chipped” with GPS tracking devices which they hope to use to guide Predator drones to a decisive engagement with the Taliban leadership

2) this Administration is made of the stupidest smart people money can buy

J_Crater on June 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

I’ll take door number 2, Monty.

formwiz on June 9, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Dude, 2011 is like three years ago. Besides, I heard that these five just want to open lemonade stands. Which would give them more executive experience than Dear Liar had.

rbj on June 9, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Obama is part of the Muslim brotherhood, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

wheelgun on June 9, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Yeah, just great. Think Rogers isn’t covered in Benghazi blood as well? And Boehner. They all knew…

bofh on June 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM

DON’T CALL MY BLUFF!…

Pest on June 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM

“We have made a serious, serious geopolitical mistake. We’ve empowered the Taliban,”

Although I am a United States Citizen…

… this pretty much falls on to that guy who took a tour of the White House and then to his surprise, found out he was the President of the United States.

Seven Percent Solution on June 9, 2014 at 11:41 AM

I WON!

…in action again…

ladyingray on June 9, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Rogers was magnificent. I’m glad he finally got the point about ceding all our demands to the Tali. This is the message that needs to get out. 0bama is destroying the nation, and tangibly making the world a more dangerous place.

paul1149 on June 9, 2014 at 11:58 AM

So Obama lied to the Afghan Government about the swap too?

Johnnyreb on June 9, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Whom hasn’t Obama lied to?

bw222 on June 9, 2014 at 12:59 PM

I love how the Afghans are indigent. They’ve not been very cooperative and frankly they deserve what they get here. We’ve poured a lot of blood and treasure into their rat’s nest of a country and what have WE gotten for it? Nothing.

Not even the gratitude of the Afghan people. Its very hard to feel anything for the Afghan people when after everything we’ve done there we’ve earned no good will from them. I frankly want nothing to do with the region. They’ve earned their squallier.

Karmashock on June 9, 2014 at 1:52 PM

“We find Obama’s language about ‘this is how wars end’ extremely insensitive,”

I suspect that Obama wanted to say ‘Mission Accomplished’, but that would have been so hypocritical even his yes-men advisers couldn’t stomach it.

Wars generally ‘end’ when one side gives up, or the two sides negotiate a truce or armistice.

When the world looks at this ‘how wars end’, which do they see?

s1im on June 9, 2014 at 2:23 PM

The NYT, Americans, Afghanis and the rest of the entire world hasn’t figured out, over the past 6 years that the Dog Eater doesn’t care about them? Naivety, mass delusion, some strange bacterial infection?

AppraisHer on June 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM