June 10, 2014 | National Review Online

Releasing The Taliban Five: A Choice, Not An Obligation

The Taliban commanders, however, are leaders of the global jihad. As shown by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Tom Joscelyn, they were among the top officials who cemented the Taliban’s alliance with al-Qaeda. That is the very arrangement that gave bin Laden’s network the launch-pad it needed to attack the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000; and New York City and Washington in 2001.

The conclusion of the fighting in Afghanistan, even if it really had been reached — and it hasn’t, not by a long shot — would not have triggered a legal obligation to release the Taliban Five. As long as the AUMF continues to authorize American combat operations against al-Qaeda and its allies throughout the world, those highly experienced, lethally competent, virulently anti-American jihadist commanders could lawfully have been detained.

Obama released the Taliban Five because he chose to do so, not because he had to do so.

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Al Qaeda