Afghanistan Frees Taliban Fighters Blamed for U.S. Deaths
The state of relations between the United States and Afghan President Hamid Karzai appears to be worsening further, with the Pentagon condemning the release of 37 dangerous prisoners.
The Afghan government freed a total of 88 prisoners, including 37 labeled by the U.S. as hardened Taliban insurgents. Some of the 37 have been blamed for attacks that killed or wounded U.S. service members.
“The Afghan Review Board is releasing back to society dangerous insurgents who have Afghan blood on their hands,” the United States Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement. “This extra-judicial release of detainees is a major step backward in further developing the rule of law in Afghanistan."
Meanwhile, Karzai is now suggesting U.S. involvement in an attack in Kabul earlier this month that killed 21 people, including three Americans. Karzai, according to an Afghan official who spoke to the Washington Post, believes the United States is trying to weaken his government and distract attention from U.S. airstrikes that kill civilians.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham called the accusation "a deeply conspiratorial view that's divorced from reality." A Taliban spokesman also rejected the claim.
Relations between D.C. and Karzai were already frayed over negotiations on an agreement to keep U.S. forces in the country beyond this year.
On Fox and Friends this morning, Brian Kilmeade discussed the worrisome developments with retired U.S. Army Lt. Col Tony Shaffer, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies.
Shaffer believes the U.S. is essentially fighting two insurgencies - one by the Taliban and other extremist groups and another by Karzai's government.
"We can't trust the government, we can't trust the Taliban. How do we work this? Clearly we want to support the Afghan people, that's why we've been there, that's why we extended. ... I believe Karzai has enriched himself on the backs of the Afghan people. It's shameful. With that said, we've got to find a way to sustain the gains we've made, which are very fragile," said Shaffer.
Overall, he believes President Obama's strategy is responsible for the current problems. Shaffer said the Taliban has been emboldened over the past few years because they know U.S. troops are on the way out.
Watch the full discussion above. Check out more reaction below from Amb. John Bolton, who talked to Bill Hemmer this morning.