Politico's Hounshell: Are These 'Five Taliban Guys' 'Ninjas With Superpowers'?

June 4th, 2014 5:19 PM

Politico Magazine Deputy Editor Blake Hounshell has made a fool of himself yet again. Three months ago, Hounshell grudgingly and bitterly had to acknowledge that former Alaska Governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was right — and he was wrong — when she predicted in 2008 that Barack Obama's weakness might cause Russia's Vladimir Putin to calculate that he could invade Ukraine without suffering meaningful consequences. That's what happened in Crimea. Hounshell characterized Palin's contention at the time as "an extremely far-fetched scenario."

In late April, he tried to claim that no one "credible" or "authoritative" had shown that the White House had knowingly pushed a false Benghazi narrative — just as award-winning reporter Sharyl Attkisson was proving otherwise. Then in a tweet Monday evening, he petulantly questioned why everyone's so concerned about the five hardened Taliban terrorists freed from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl (HT Twitchy):


The Daily Beast article Hounshell referenced does nothing to support his ridicule of those who are seriously concerned about those who have been released. The item's title says one thing, but the content says another:

How Obama Convinced His Spies to Support the Taliban Prisoner Release
The Pentagon and the nation’s top intelligence official opposed releasing the Gitmo Five in 2012. This time around the White House got the answer it wanted when the Taliban was ready to deal.

That's horse manure, once one reads what really happened, according to reporter Eli Lake:

But current U.S. intelligence and defense officials who spoke to The Daily Beast on Monday say the process for exchanging Taliban for Bergdahl this time was rushed and closely held, in some instances leaving little room for any push back against a policy clearly favored by the White House.

“This was an example of forcing the consensus,” one U.S. military official said. “The White House knew the answer they wanted and they ended up getting it.”

That is, it wasn't about "convincing," it was about unilaterally acting with only a thin veneer of consultation. Or, as Time Magazine quoted a person said to be familiar with how it went down, "Suck it up and salute."

As to how dangerous the five "guys" whom I would prefer to call "terrorists" are, here's a quick description from CBS News which was posted on Sunday evening, about 24 hours before Hounshell's tin-eared tweet (bolds other than the terrorists' names are mine):

The five Taliban swapped for Bowe Bergdahl

Khairullah Khairkhwa is the most senior ex-Guantanamo prisoner who comes from "the fraternity of original Taleban who launched the movement in 1994," according the Afghanistan Analysts Network. He surrendered to President Hamid Karzai's brother just before he was captured in January 2002. His most prominent position was as governor of Herat Province from 1999 to 2001. He served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and had direct ties to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.

Mullah Norullah Noori served as governor of Balkh Province in the Taliban regime and played some role in coordinating the fight against the Northern Alliance. He was a senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces in late 2001.

Mohammad Fazl commanded the main force fighting the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001 and served as chief of army staff under the Taliban regime. Human Rights Watch says he could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 as the Taliban sought to consolidate their control over the country. Fazl joined the Taliban early, never held a civilian post, and rose through the ranks because of his fighting ability, ending up up as one of their most important and feared military commanders, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

Abdul Haq Wasiq was the deputy chief of the Taliban regime's intelligence service and the cousin of the head of the service, Qari Ahmadullah, who was among the Taliban's founding members, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

Mohammed Nabi was a Taliban official in Khost Province. He served as chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, Afghanistan, and later worked as a radio operator for the Taliban's communications office in Kabul.

Jim Angle of Fox News has tweeted a quote from a Department of Defense official who asserts that the exchange is “like handing over 5 4-star generals of the Taliban."

That's not "five guys," Blake Hounshell. They're five terrorists. Most have significant battlefield leadership experience.

Here's a helpful suggestion for future reference, Blake: Step away from the Twitter.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.