Published on June 3, 2014

Controversy has arisen over the U.S. government deal that released five Taliban prisoners held for years in Guantánamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier captured and held in Afghanistan since June 2009. Critics have called the decision hypocritical.

There is a case that can be made for the allegation. The five Taliban were arguably among those who had actually committed crimes, if fighting foreign troops who invaded their country could be deemed an offense. At the very least, they had taken part in hostilities and might, originally, have been legitimately detained as bona fide prisoners of war — a position that would be more defensible if only the U.S. respected the Geneva Conventions.

Compare those five men to the 78 detainees remaining in Guantánamo Bay who have been held there for 12 years or more and yet have been cleared for release for half that time. With the Taliban five headed for freedom, the cleared prisoners now make up more than 52 percent of the 149 detainees left there. Has there ever existed another prison where more than half the prisoners were told they had been cleared to leave but they could not go?

Read more: Aljazeera

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