Graham Throws Tantrum Over an Afghanistan With No Night Raids or US Control of Prisons

Proof from April, 2010 that we have trained the Afghans to manage their own prisons.

With most eyes yesterday on Super Tuesday and political wrangling over Iran’s nuclear technology, not many took notice of the update from Reuters Tuesday morning letting us know that an agreement on transfer detention faciliies to full Afghanistan control is expected by the end of this week. Lindsey Graham did notice the news,however, and chose to vent to Josh Rogin just before lunch.

Lindsey is not happy:

Graham, who has been one of the strongest congressional supporters for continuing the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014, said today that unless Karzai relents on his demands that the United States immediately hand over control of Afghan prisoners and end night raids against insurgents, there is no way the U.S. can achieve its objectives in Afghanistan and therefore should just end its involvement there.

“If the president of the country can’t understand how irrational it is to expect us to turn over prisoners and if he doesn’t understand that the night raids have been the biggest blow to the Taliban … then there is no hope of winning. None,” Graham said in the hallways of the Capitol Building just before entering the GOP caucus lunch.

“So if he insists that all the prisoners have to be turned over by March 9 and that we have to stop night raids, that means we will fail in Afghanistan and that means Lindsey Graham pulls the plug. It means that I no longer believe we can win and we might as well get out of there sooner rather than later.”

Graham gets so much wrong in his rant. He seems to think that the US is planning to hand over full control of the prisons on Friday. Reuters reports that the most likely agreement is for the process to start on Friday but take place over a six month period:

In a meeting Monday between Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. John Allen, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, the American side proposed a six-month timeline for the transfer.

Karzai was reported to have set a deadline of March 9 for the United States to hand over the detention facilities.

An Afghan official said that under one possible scenario, a transfer of prisons could start within the next few days and it may be completed within six months.

Next, Graham complains that the Afghans will merely turn insurgents loose to “start killing Americans again”, despite the fact that Afghanistan appears to hang onto some prisoners long enough to have built up quite a reputation for torture there.

And Graham seems to have forgotten that training has been a cornerstone of US policy in Afghanistan, presumably equipping the Afghans for the time when we could hand over prisons and other security arrangements to the Afghans so that we could go home. We gave Brig. Gen. Saffiullah his colorful certificate showing he had been trained almost two years ago, so why shouldn’t he be able to take full charge of the prisons now?

But Graham is not upset just about prisons. He also doesn’t want to lose night raids, which also are likely to be a part of the agreement with Afghanistan:

Afghanistan wants the United States and NATO to agree to stop carrying out night raids on Afghan homes as a precondition for signing an agreement with Washington and a timeline to assume control over detention centers.

Graham told Rogin night raids are too valuable a tool to give up:

“But I’m not going to support signing that agreement if Karzai insists that we end night raids, which are the biggest blow available to our forces against the enemy,” he said. “If he requires that we end night raids, we’ll have no hope of being successful.”

It can be argued that night raids are perhaps the signature action of the US presence in Afghanistan. Despite Graham’s insistence that the raids are successful, the reality of overall violence going up over time simply because of the US being present argues fairly strongly that night raids in fact make Afghanistan less stable.

Despite his protesting, however, Graham does get one thing right. Handing over control of the prisons as a first step toward full withdrawal from Afghanistan makes perfect sense. He can stomp his foot and protest all he wants, but if an agreement putting us on that course can be signed by the end of the week, I would think that is something most Americans will celebrate.

 

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
11 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    Lindsey’s one unquestionable talent is the Hissy Fit. He should take that on the road. Maybe Dancing with the Stars?

    Shorter Lindsey Graham: “I’m taking my nerf ball and going home. So there!”

  2. Jim White says:

    @MadDog: Yup. I’m just waiting for late night TV ads for the DVD compilation of “Lindsey’s Greatest Fits”:

    “You’ll laugh while he cries!”
    “The Ten Best Foot-Stomps of All Time!”

  3. MadDog says:

    @Jim White: This Lindsey Graham irrational statement about Iran’s rationality in Josh Gerstein’s piece over at Politico had me chuckling this morning:

    “…Gen. Dempsey is a fine man. But when he said that he thought the Iranians were rational actors, I just want to go on record. I don’t think it’s rational for a country to try to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador in a restaurant in Washington. I don’t see what Iran is doing is being rational,” Graham told CNN…”

    Says the man who supports the killing of Iranian scientists with magnet bombs attached to their cars.

    Pot, meeting fookin’ kettle!

  4. ezdidit says:

    He ought to shove a sock in it. I’m pretty sure that for all practical purposes this hissy fit violated the National Security Act of 1947. Maybe Graham should just go negotiate a better deal with Karzai himself.

  5. Bob Schacht says:

    All you wrote is true, EW, but it also contains a hopeful sign: Lindsey Graham would support immediate withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan! To which I can only say, “Attaboy, Lindsay! Go for it!”

    Bob in AZ

  6. Bob Snell says:

    Great post today Jim. Make Lindsay Graham angry and peace activists happy at the same time, a win -win situation. Whatever will get us out of Afghanistan saving money and lives at the same time.

  7. nomolos says:

    It means that I no longer believe we can win and we might as well get out of there sooner rather than later.

    So what is “winning”? Does he mean finishing the oil pipe line? Does he mean a chicken in every pot? Does he mean building an Israeli airbase so they may continue their war on Iran?

    What the fuck is winning Lindsey? America hasn’t “won” a war since 1945, all the other murderous invasions have been nothing but fuck ups from the word go.

  8. GKJames says:

    Might it be worthwhile to remind Senator Graham that, if the US military vacates Afghanistan, the Taliban will have neither motive nor target?

  9. joanneleon says:

    The man has lost it long ago. And since when does a Senator dictate specific war tactics? We can all have opinions about it but this guy acts like he wants to be war general or admiral or something. I think he was a Navy JAG in the past. If he wants to micromanage the war, why doesn’t he go for active duty and go lead the war effort himself?

    I believe we need to stop the night raids yesterday. And I also believe that this war in Afghanistan is not winnable. I don’t know what success in Afghanistan looks like to Lindsey Graham but he also says the whole world is the battlefield in a frenzied tone on the floor of the Senate. Seriously, why is anyone listening to this man? He has lost it.

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