Friday, January 1, 2010

A deal signed and sealed in British and American blood

In a post yesterday,  I opined on the apparent exchange of an Iranian proxy terrorist for a British hostage.  (photo Bill Roggio)  The New York Times appears to discount speculation about Iran's involvement in the kidnapping and murder of the British hostages on the word of the Iranian government:
There was speculation on Thursday that Iran, which according to Iraqi and American officials provided money for the group, might have aided in the kidnapping or that Mr. Moore might have been held in Iran.

Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, denied those claims, according to Iranian state media.
The Washington Post shines a little more light on Iranian involvement:
A British computer programmer seized in Iraq was held in Iran for at least part of his captivity, the U.S. general who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan said on Friday.

Gen. David Petraeus said, however, that it was difficult to tell whether Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard or the Quds force - an arm of the Guard involved in foreign operations - had a role in Peter Moore's capture. 

U.S. officials have accused Iran of funneling money and arms to Shiite militias in Iraq through the Quds force and of seeking to exert a negative influence over the neighboring country and its Shiite-dominated government.

The assertion that Moore, who was taken by a Shiite extremist group in Iraq, had been moved to Iran at some stage pointed to the possibility of continued Iranian involvement in its neighbor's affairs. Petraeus warned Friday that Iranian-backed militias still to pose a threat to Iraq's stability.
My heart goes out to General Petraeus, as he tries to put a good face on this disgraceful swap.  The U.S. has released two terrorists who our military believes were directly responsible for the murder of five U.S. soldiers in Karbala in 2007 and hundreds of members of the Iranian-backed Asaib al Haq or League of the Righteous.  In return, the organization returns three British hostages in body bags and releases one alive.  A fifth Briton is believed to be dead.

On the record, the U.S. military and the British Foreign Office are describing the deal as part of a "reconciliation effort."  I know what reconciliation means.  It means the restoration to a state of friendship and harmony.  This has nothing to do with reconciliation. It would be more accurate to call it what it is, conciliation, i.e., appeasement.

This is not a new story, but it has received little media attention.  The Long War Journal reports that Senators Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl sent a letter to President Obama back in July questioning whether the administration was negotiating with terrorist organizations for a hostage release.  The senators maintain that any such negotiation would be in direct violation of an executive order issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.  The letter states, in part:
We are deeply concerned by recent news reports that suggest your administration may be negotiating directly or indirectly with terrorist organizations for the release of dangerous terrorist detainees. It has long been the policy of the United States that our government does not negotiate with or provide concessions to terrorists. We strongly believe this is a wise policy for the long-term security interests of the United States and believe it should not be changed.

On January 20, 1986, President Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive Number 207, which prohibits negotiations with terrorist organizations regarding the release of hostages. The Directive sets forth in unequivocal terms the United States’ “firm opposition to terrorism in all its forms” and makes clear the government’s “conviction that to accede to terrorist demands places more American citizens at risk. This no-concessions policy is the best way of protecting the greatest number of people and ensuring their safety.” The Directive continues to say: “The [United States government] will pay no ransoms, nor permit releases of prisoners or agree to other conditions that could serve to encourage additional terrorism. We will make no changes in our policy because of terrorist threats or acts.” This policy is further articulated in Department of State Publication 10217, which makes clear the United States “will not support the freeing of prisoners from incarceration in response to terrorist demands.”
We would like to know if it remains the policy and practice of the United States not to negotiate with or make concessions to terrorists, especially as it relates to the release of detainees or hostages. This question is prompted by news reports from a wide range of outlets that show your administration may have violated this longstanding policy by releasing a dangerous terrorist in Iraq in response to the demands of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, a terrorist group that is holding British hostages.
You can read the full text of the letter here.  According to The Long War Journal, the Obama administration has not answered the letter.

The President has had time to travel to Copenhagen twice.  He has had time for a date night in the Big Apple with he first lady.  He has made time for golf, sun and sand in Hawaii.  In fact, he's still there.  But he cannot answer a few direct questions from two U.S. senators.

If you want the sanitized version of this story, keep reading the NY Times and the WaPo.  If you want the unvarnished truth about it, I recommend Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal who got this quote from an unnamed U.S. military officer:

“This was a deal signed and sealed in British and American blood,” a US military officer told The Long War Journal. “We freed all of their leaders and operatives; they [the League of the Righteous] executed their hostages and sent them back in body bags. And we’re supposed to be happy about it.”

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