U.S. Senators urge Karzai not to free 88 prisoners

A prisoner waited to leave the Bagram military prison during a release ceremony earlier this year

Three U.S. senators Thursday urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a stalled bilateral security agreement and flagged a new U.S. concern, the proposed release of dozens of detainees deemed to be a threat to coalition forces.

Republican Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) met Mr. Karzai in Kabul, where they warned the Afghan president about wavering U.S. public support for the war in Afghanistan.

Relations are shaky over Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement that would pave the way for U.S. and allied troops to remain in Afghanistan after the end of this year. The senators are also raising concerns about an Afghan detention review board’s recommendation that 88 detainees held in an Afghan-run facility at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, be freed.

U.S. officials say many of those individuals were responsible for attacks on Afghan and coalition troops and are “legitimate threats.”

Abdul Shakor Dadras, a member of the review board, said this week that the panel had recommended freeing around 650 individuals held at Bagram. A U.S. official said 560 of those had already been freed.

Releasing the remaining detainees “would be devastating to any future negotiations with the United States,” said Sen. Graham, adding there was “much evidence” to implicate them in attacks on Afghan and coalition forces and civilians.

More than 60 coalition troops and 57 Afghans have been killed in those attacks, said the senator, who recently ended military reserve duty with the coalition task force that oversees detentions in Afghanistan.
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No arguments that Karzai is a weasel. But it is odd that the U.S. finds the release of Palestinian prisoners who have killed to be positively desirable.

h/t for second link Cherson and Molschky

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