- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2014

The Obama administration condemned Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s release of 65 hardened Taliban fighters four months ago, even though the White House on Saturday approved the exchange of five terrorists leaders for a soldier suspected of deserting his post.

When 65 Taliban walked out of prison in February, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul immediately criticized the release as a danger to American troops and Afghans.

Calling the move “deeply regrettable,” the embassy said: “The Afghan government bears responsibility for the results of its decision. We urge it to make every effort to ensure that those released do not commit new acts of violence and terror.”

 The U.S. military command also condemned the release.

“Violent criminals who harm Afghans and threaten the peace and security of Afghanistan should face justice in the Afghan courts,” the U.S. force said in a statement.

The Pentagon went so far as to release profiles of some of the Taliban fighters, saying that 25 were directly linked to the killing of NATO and Afghan troops by making improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the No. 1 killer of Americans in the country.

For example, an inmate identified as Khalil was a Haqqani Network operative who transported weapons and a member of an IED production cell.

It is the deadly Haqqani Network, a Taliban ally, that held Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal for five years after he walked away from his forward operating base.

The Obama administration on Saturday released five senior Taliban leaders, some tied to war crimes and massacres. They must stay in Qatar but can go back to the battlefield in one year, when some U.S. troops will still be in Afghanistan.

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