Do we negotiate with terrorists? Apparently we do now
About two weeks ago, the Obama administration released Laith Qazali after extensive negotiations with the Asaib al-Haq terror network. That network has long been in negotiations with the fledgling Iraqi government, dangling the possibility of laying down its arms, renouncing violence, and integrating into Iraqi society, provided that its top members — particularly Qais and Laith Qazali, as well as Ali Mussa Daqduq — be released. Realizing, however, that these terrorists were responsible for kidnapping and killing American soldiers in gross violation of the laws of war, the Bush administration had declined to release them.
The Obama administration has not only released Laith Qazali, it has been in negotiations to release his brother, Qais Qazali, as well. The negotiations and release were carried out in flagrant disregard of the longstanding policy against exchanging prisoners for the release of hostages. Undermining that policy endangers all American troops and civilian personnel — as well as the troops and civilian personnel of our allies — by encouraging terrorists to kidnap them to use as bargaining chips.
The story of this deal with the devil traces back to May 31, 2007. At the Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad that day, the Asaib al-Haq network kidnapped five British civilians: an information-technology expert named Peter Moore and his four contract bodyguards. The civilians pleaded for the British government to engineer their safe return. British, American, and Iraqi forces were unsuccessful in numerous rescue attempts.
Asaib al-Haq operatives told Iraqi-government officials that they would release the Brits in exchange for the Qazali brothers and Daqduq. The Bush administration refused. The Times of London has reported that the Americans gave the British request respectful consideration but declined to approve it absent an Iraqi commitment to prosecute the terrorists. The Iraqis refused. Mohammad al-Sa’ady, an adviser to Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, rationalized the decision to take no action against the murderers of Americans who died fighting for Iraqis this way: “We pointed out that Qais Qazali has a problem with the Americans. He doesn’t have a problem with us. He is not wanted for crimes against Iraqis.”
By contrast, President Obama was persuaded to free Laith Qazali outright, just as Obama previously had authorized the outright release to Britain of the al-Qaeda terrorist Binyam Mohammed, who had plotted with “dirty bomber” José Padilla to commit post-9/11 mass-murder attacks in American cities. And although the administration has attempted to pass off Laith Qazali’s release as a necessary compromise of American national interests for the purportedly greater good of Iraqi reconciliation, the camouflage is thin indeed. Transparently, the terrorist has been freed as a quid pro quo for the release of British hostages. According to the New York Times, Sami al-Askari, another Maliki mouthpiece, told an interviewer:
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 in the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned.
That President Obama has exchanged a terrorist for hostages is now obvious, as should be the disastrous consequences.
In the wake of Laith Qazali’s release, the Asaib al-Haq network was unsatisfied; it continued to demand the release of its leader, Qais Qazali, and that of Daqduq. The terrorists did, however, release two of their British hostages, or, to be precise, their corpses: Jason Creswell of Glasgow and Jason Swindlehurst of Lancashire had been dead for weeks, perhaps longer, when their remains were turned over to the British embassy in Iraq. As the U.K.’s Independent recounted, the bodies had been “taken from an Iraqi government building in the centre of the Iraqi capital by men in police uniform, past army checkpoints and a second security screen into Sadr City, the base of Shia militias, all signs, say the men’s families, of official collusion.”
We have had a long-standing rule: We don't negotiate with terrorists. Like giving into a blackmailer, a terrorist's price will only go up, and as we see here even when you do give into them they don't stop. We gave them one, and they demanded more. They reneged on the deal and released the remains of two Brits as opposed to all of them, as it was agreed upon.
Barry just made us even weaker with this move. This man clearly doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to foreign policy. Sure, we think he's doing exactly what he intends to do with his radical domestic agenda, but when it comes to foreign policy this guy is clueless. If this is how he's going to work when it comes to dealing with thugs then he is undermining US security. That's a violation of his oath of office.
But will the Democrats hold him responsible? Hell no. They stand in lock-step behind this man, and in their eyes he can do no wrong. In the meantime, he emboldens our enemy abroad. Way to go Barry.