The PJ Tatler

Graham Wants Afghanistan's Aid Pulled for Releasing 65 Enemy Combatants

Lawmakers are livid about a mass release of enemy combatants that they say runs counter to agreements between the U.S. and Afghanistan governments.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to yank the fledgling democracy’s foreign development aid until at least after the April 5 presidential election.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan, confirmed in a memo this week that “65 dangerous individuals, from a group of 88 detainees under dispute, have been order-released from the Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan.”

“The U.S. on several occasions provided extensive information and evidence on each of the 88 detainees to the Afghan Review Board, the Afghan national director of security, and the attorney general’s office,” Dunford said. “This release violates agreements between the U.S. and the Afghanistan — U.S. and Afghanistan… The release of 65 detainees is a legitimate force protection concern for lives of both coalition troops and Afghan national security forces.”

“The primary weapon of choice for these individuals is the IED, widely recognized as the primary causes of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The release of these detainees is a major step backward for the rule of law in Afghanistan. Some previously-released individuals have already returned to the fight. And this subsequent release will allow dangerous insurgents back to Afghan cities and villages.”

Reading the memo at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Graham said President Hamid Karzai “has basically sidestepped his own rule of law.”

“I will be urging my colleagues to cut all developmental aid off to Afghanistan as a response until after the next election,” he said. “…President Karzai, in my view, is single-handedly destroying this relationship; that his erratic behavior, that his outrageous statements are doing great damage.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said all of the detainees in question “are associated with groups with whom the U.S. is at war, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network.”

“Some are directly responsible for American casualties. Many specialize in IEDs, which have claimed the lives of too many of our brave young men and women. Some are linked to terrorist financing. Their release is in direct contravention of an agreement signed between the U.S. and Afghan governments,” McKeon said in a statement yesterday.

“I am, frankly, appalled by the Karzai government’s complete lack of respect for our troops, men and women who are fighting to keep Afghanistan standing. I am no less disappointed by the Obama administration, whose schizophrenic detainee policies have directly contributed to this deeply concerning turn of events. My thoughts and prayers are with coalition forces in Afghanistan, who must now deal with a greater threat that was wholly preventable.”