US Military Secretly Releases Afghan Detainees on a Promise

Officials Won't Provide Details on How Many Are Released Under Program

Much was made of US promises to release a handful of detainees from Guantanamo Bay as a “confidence-building” measure ahead of talks with the Taliban, but as this was being discussed another program releasing detainees was already ongoing at Parwan, the only military detention center in Afghanistan.

The highly secretive program has been going on for years, officials say, though they declined to provide details on exactly how many have been released. The detainees are released on promises from local commanders to scale back attacks in return for the releases, or sometimes just on a promise that the detainee won’t do it again.

Officials, most of whom were only willing to discuss the program anonymously, say that they believe the benefits of releasing the detainees outweighs the risk. Yet they declined to discuss exactly how often the deals actually worked, or provide any examples.

While the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are held under some nominal Congressional oversight, the Parwan facility operates virtually off the radar, allowing the military to secretly hold or release whoever they want generally without fear of contradiction.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of