90% Of Captured “Taliban” Turned Out To Be Innocent


IPS: But it turns out that more than 80 percent of those called captured Taliban fighters were released within days of having been picked up, because they were found to have been innocent civilians, according to official U.S. military data.  Even more were later released from the main U.S. detention facility at Bagram airbase called the Detention Facility in Parwan after having their files reviewed by a panel of military officers. The timing of Petraeus’s claim of Taliban fighters captured or killed, moreover, indicates that he knew that four out of five of those he was claiming as “captured Taliban rank and file” were not Taliban fighters at all. Thus more than four out of every five Afghans said to have been Taliban fighters captured during that period had been released within two weeks as innocent civilians. When Petraeus decided in mid-August to release the figure of 1,355 Taliban rank and file allegedly captured during the 90-day period, he already knew that 80 percent or more of that total had already been released. MORE

RELATED: The Obama administration opens an internal debate this week on the size of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan amid growing doubts in Congress about the cost and purpose of the decade-long war and public pressure to bring it to a rapid end. President Obama is expected to announce next month the size and pace of a drawdown he promised in December 2009, when he rolled out a strategy that included adding 30,000 U.S. troops in hopes of breaking Obama_Afghanistan_Hope.jpgthe Taliban‘s momentum. He will reach a decision on the number in deliberations with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. David H. Petraeus, who are known to favor a small initial reduction in the 100,000-strong troops on the ground, and other officials who want to move more quickly. Obama has given few hints on which way he is leaning, but the ground may be shifting in favor of a much smaller military footprint. Gates is retiring at the end of the month. Petraeus is moving to the CIA, where he will no longer have direct influence over the size of the military force. MORE

RELATED: The fiscal fundamentalism that has so gripped the Republican Party has suddenly mated the issues of the economy and the wars. Conservatives are supposed to be pro-military, but if they now follow the logic of their consternation about the government’s looming bankruptcy, then not only the course of the Afghanistan conflict will shift. So will funding for the entire national security apparatus. If Medicare is on the table, the table itself is on the Pentagon. What an irony if the hugely expensive garrison state created during the Cold War begins to be dismantled not because its ethical and strategic justifications disappeared but simply because it costs too damn much. Deficit hawks will have done what anti-war doves forever failed to do. MORE

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