Monday, June 9, 2014

Taliban Prisoner Swap: A Fact-Free Controversy

By Justin Raimondo

It’s time to ask: Is John McCain losing it? At 77, the irascible Arizona Senator has become the "get off my lawn" cranky-old-man symbol of the GOP’s generational problem, but it’s gotten worse lately, with his most recent pronouncements on the Bowe Bergdahl-Taliban prisoner swap calling into question his mental competence. Commenting on the prisoner swap, McCain said on CNN’s "State of Union" the five released Gitmo detainees are "hardcore military jihadists who are responsible for 9/11″ and “I wouldn’t release these men, not these men. They were evaluated and judged as too great a risk to release."
None of these statements are even remotely true: and, what’s more, the Senator surely has access to information directly contradicting his assertions. So either he’s lying, or he’s gone senile.
First, as to the specifics on the released Taliban prisoners: Anand Gopal, a policy analyst with the New America Foundation, points out here, that, far from being hardcore jihadists, "all five of the swapped prisoners were initially captured while trying to cut deals, and like [former Taliban governor of Herat Khairullah] Khairkhwa, three had been attempting to join, or had already joined, the Afghan government at the time of their arrest."
"You’re either with us," George W. Bush famously averred, "or you’re with the terrorists" – but in Afghanistan, such Fox News-like starkness doesn’t exist and never has existed. Instead, in a society dominated by tribal allegiances, power relationships are negotiated according to clan ties and the convenience of the moment.
Mohammad Nabi Omari, another of the five detainees, was actually working for the Americans – the CIA – when he was arrested by Pakistani border police and shipped off to Guantanamo. Why was he arrested? Because the US government was handing out cold hard cash – lots of it – in exchange for "intelligence," and Omari’s many enemies took advantage of this bonanza to accuse him of harboring pro-Taliban sympathies – when, in reality, he opposed the Taliban because he believed they had provoked the American attack by harboring Osama bin Laden. According to another former jihadist who switched sides "He would sit there and tell me, ‘if I see a Talib, I won’t even let him take a piss, I’m going to turn him in.’" As it turned out, however, he was the one who got turned in. Was he set up, or was he setting others up? We’ll probably never know, but this seems like another case of the US government’s perpetually crossed signals.

1 comment:

  1. Great commentary from Mr. Raimondo as usual. I think John McCain lost it a long time ago. The man is a complete bloodthirsty lunatic psychopath. He should be in prison.