"According to my personal information, he was released two days ago," the official, Alaa al-Taei, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said Tuesday.
The above is the opening to Timothy Williams and John Leland's "Suspect in Deaths of 5 G.I.’s Is Freed, Iraqi Official Says" in this morning's New York Times. Barack Obama made the decision to do the release. Ned Parker and Saad Fakhrildeen's "Iraq frees Shiite militant in exchange for Briton, followers say" (Los Angeles Times):
The release followed the complicated transfer of Khazali and 450 of his supporters from U.S. to Iraqi custody, which began in June when his brother Laith and a senior aide were given their freedom.
Since then, the League of the Righteous has handed over to the Iraqi government the corpses of three of the abducted British hostages, and the kidnapping's one known survivor, Peter Moore, a computer technician. Moore was freed last week after the Americans transferred Qais Khazali to Iraqi custody.
The fate of the fifth hostage remains unknown, although he is believed to be dead.
The U.S. military has backed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government in its effort to bring Khazali into the political process and has said the League of the Righteous halted its attacks against the Americans early last summer.
Khazali had been held since March 2007 in the kidnapping and killing of five U.S. soldiers in the southern city of Karbala in January of that year. His supporters kidnapped the Britons to bargain for his release. At the time, the Americans accused Khazali of working in direct collaboration with Iran's Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard.
Late to the party? Dropping back to the June 9th snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."Laura Rozen (Politico) did a brief write up yesterday. To be clear, the British government has every right to ask for help with their hostages -- in fact, as the Iraq Inquiry has demonstrated, if they didn't ask for help constantly, the British government would have no 'plan' when it came to freeing hostages. It is their obligation, not just their right. The British government is supposed to represent their citizens. The United States government is supposed to represent their own citizens' best interests. There will be trade-offs and one-offs and various deals made between governments. But there was never any reason for the US to go along with this. Bully Boy Bush was an idiot. Whether it was him or others in his administration who knew you don't make this trade, someone made the right call.
You do not make this trade as the president of the United States. Not because "We don't negotiate with terrorists." All governments negotiate with terrorists -- most governments are bed with terrorists regimes.
You do not make this trade as the president of the United States because there's nothing in it for the US. You were elected to represent the American people. There's no benefit for them in releasing the ringleaders of the League of Righteous.
5 American soldiers were killed. As commander-in-chief, it's your job to see that justice comes from that. That doesn't mean you attack every Iraqi, nor that you attack all the Iraqis in the League of Righteous. It does mean the ringleaders are held responsible. When they kidnap five British citizens in an attempt to force you to release their ringleaders, your only response is: No.
That's not negotiations, that's blackmail.
Before the June release, it was known that at least three of the five British citizens were dead and thought that a fourth was and that only Peter Moore was alive. That was before the June release. Peter Moore is a British citizen. His government needs to work on securing his release, not the American government. The American government had in its custody the ringleaders of the League of Righteous, responsible for planning and ordering an assault on a US base which resulted in the deaths of five American citizens. You prosecute the ringleaders. You do not release them. You do not make a deal to release them.
There are no American interests which benefit from the release. No American citizens are being held hostage. There's no need for America and Britian to get closer (is it even possible?). You say no and the British government understands and pursues other options. There were no benefits for America to the release. It never should have happened. It undermines any belief within the military that Barack Obama is a capable commander in chief. It demeans what the White House occupants keep insisting, regardless of who occupies the Oval Office, are "noble sacrifices" made by the fallen.
It's insulting, it's unintelligent and it's so typical of Princess Tiny Meat Barack Obama. At the White House yesterday, Princess Tiny Meat declared (link is to the White House blog and it's text and video):
I called these leaders to the White House because we face a challenge of the utmost urgency. As we saw on Christmas, al Qaeda and its extremist allies will stop at nothing in their efforts to kill Americans. And we are determined not only to thwart those plans, but to disrupt, dismantle and defeat their networks once and for all.
To defeat their networks? The League of Righteous isn't being defeated. It's getting its way. It's used kidnapping and murder and it's getting its way. It's killed 5 Americans and it's getting its way.
Princess Tiny Meat declared yesterday:
Now, I will accept that intelligence, by its nature, is imperfect, but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged. That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it. Time and again, we've learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary.
So we have to do better -- and we will do better. And we have to do it quickly. American lives are on the line.
American lives are meaningless. Barack Obama made that clear when he disrespected the 5 fallen by ordering the release of the ringleaders of the League of Righteous. Princess Tiny Meat concluded his latest effort at speechifying with the following:
In short, we need our intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement systems -- and the people in them -- to be accountable and to work as intended: collecting, sharing, integrating, analyzing, and acting on intelligence as quickly and effectively as possible to save innocent lives -- not just most of the time, but all the time. That's what the American people deserve. As President, that's exactly what I will demand.
Princess Tiny Meat can't stop lying. There is no accountability. Robert Gibbs authorized the slur against Indians (the p-word) in 2007 and Barack, after the New York Times reported on the document, claimed there would be accountability. Robert Gibbs is now the White House spokesperson. He made the worst insult you could to Indian-Americans and to the country of India and he was not held accountable. No one is ever held accountable by Barack. He likes to throw around the term "accountability" but he does practice it. He never has.
On the day another League of Righteous ringleader was released, Barry wants to talk about "what the American people deserve"? Really? He doesn't have a clue. What he did is outrageous and I'm honestly surprised there aren't calls for impeachment. (No, he wouldn't be impeached. But this is more outrageous than a sexual affair.)
Friday night on most PBS stations, NOW on PBS begins airing (check local listings) and this week's program explores the Afghanistan War:
President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 more troops to combat Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan this year, but are we missing the true target? On Friday, January 8 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW reports directly from Pakistan's dangerous and pivotal border with Afghanistan, where Pentagon war planners acknowledge many of the enemy fighters and their leaders are based. The U.S. has been relying on Pakistan to act against Taliban militants there, but the Pakistani army's commitment is in question. NOW takes you to the true front lines for an eye-opening, inside lookyou haven't seen before, and won't soon forget.
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