America's official public policy has always been to never negotiate with terrorists. We've done it before, as have most other Western countries, in a back-room kind of way. But never overtly. Never celebratory, as Obama press announcement seemed. This surely signals a policy change. No matter to the politicians, all they think about are short term gains during a crisis. Besides,
A U.S. officials stressed that the detainees were transferred after it was assessed that they did not present any threat to U.S.How comforting. Like Uncle Saddam--they probably like Doritos, too.
As to the illegality of doing this, meh. The Commander in Chief should have latitude over such deals, which is why Obama included one of those evil signing statements (that he bashed Bush for doing) saying he had the latitude to ignore what the bill made illegal. His response now is probably 'bring it on'. They won't, they'll just make some noise, because they know a CinC should have this power. It's his use of the power that is at issue.
As to the timing, that's obvious. Within a span of 24 hours after General Shinseki was forced to retire due to the VA mess they also
Not like they didn't need a diversion from the dead vets and what the VA scandal says about government-run health care in general. Or the fact that someone known to the administration leaked the name of the Kabul CIA Station Chief last week. Everything is political for these guys, so discounting their skill at running media diversions is as foolhardy as ignoring the media's predisposition to play along.
Meanwhile, here's some mug shots of the nice fellows released to the protection of Qatar (who once protected KSM before 9/11)..
Surely they are nice to animals, young boys and women.
So. We have a president who adamantly refused to negotiate with Republicans (who Biden called terrorists) in his own country over a debt ceiling deal who has now cavalierly changed American policy on dealing with real terrorists. It's hard to think there's any silver lining. The only possible hope is that these guys will be spied upon, followed, watched and tracked of their every movements. Who knows, maybe they were injected with RFID chips during the sleepy time at GTMO.
Chances are Obama doesn't care they were among the group who helped AQ kill 2900+ Americans 13 years ago. He doesn't mind that they coddled bin Laden allowing him to set up the attack, then refused to hand him over afterwards. It's possible the administration has issued orders not to obliterate them once freed in order to keep the trust window open for more negotiations with the enemy. Droning them would be a little tacky for a guy who's trying to lose the war responsibly. Justice says they deserve to meet Allah sooner than later, like accidentally falling off that big skyscraper in Dubai. Maybe someone will do the right thing eventually.
Various and sundry coming in from the bowels of the internets..
1. Did the Kabul CIA Station Chief that was outed last week when Obama was in town know about this swap?
2. Did the father grow the beard as a statement on getting his son back or in some kind of sympathy play?
3. Panetta was offered the deal four years ago and turned it down according to Face the Nation. That means the deal has variously been on the table for awhile. That means the urgency mentioned by Hagel this morning was possibly more an urgency to deflect from the Shinseki firing. Yes, they think we're that stupid. And yes, they are that craven.