Report: US secretly releasing high-level Afghan detainees

The clandestine release program is likely to spark protests among Republicans in Congress, who vocally opposed the release of the Guantanamo detainees.

According to the Post, the fighters who are released would not be able to go through the traditional legal system for military detainees.

The detainees are released in part to decrease the insurgent violence in areas where NATO troops don’t have control. U.S. officials make deals with insurgent commanders or local elders who promise that violence will cease or decrease in their area, according to the Post.

The prisoners are not required to disavow the Taliban — which is a requirement in a formal reconciliation effort in Afghanistan — and in some cases the detainees are used for peace efforts as well.

The detainees are required to promise to give up violence, the Post reported, although officials would not say whether anyone released had returned to the fight.

“Everyone agrees they are guilty of what they have done and should remain in detention. Everyone agrees that these are bad guys. But the benefits outweigh the risks,” one unnamed U.S. official told the Post.

Reconciliation with the Taliban is one tenet of the U.S. plan to draw down in Afghanistan and hand control to the Afghan security forces in 2014, but officials said this release program is not part of a deal with the Taliban.

Officials would not say how many fighters have been released under the strategic review program, which does not require congressional approval, but characterized it as a relatively rare occurrence.