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Why Are We In Afghanistan If Our Government Won’t Even Designate the Taliban a Terrorist Organization?


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National Review:

Andy McCarthy

Back in May, while disagreeing with the Obama administration’s knee-jerk decision to treat the would-be Times Square bomber as a criminal defendant rather than an enemy combatant, I pointed out that the administration might have had a good legal argument. That was because Faisal Shahzad appeared to be connected to the Pakistani Taliban (something that has since been corroborated). It’s not clear that Taliban operatives qualify for enemy treatment.

To be an enemy combatant, an operative must be affiliated with the enemy we are fighting in a war. Yet, though we have been at this for nearly nine years now, though Americans have been told we need to continue the fight in Afghanistan because the Taliban must be defeated, though the Pakistani Taliban is closely linked to the Afghan Taliban, and though the Pakistani Taliban is plainly plotting to attack our homeland, Congress has never amended the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) enacted after 9/11. The AUMF does not expressly name either Taliban organization, much less both of them, as enemies. Nor does it name other jihadist organizations targeting our forces, such as the Haqqani Network and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (the faction of Gilbuddin Hekmatyar, whom I discussed in Tuesday’s column).

It gets worse. Yesterday, after three months of delay, the State Department finally issued its congressionally mandated annual terrorism report. It shows that the United States has not even designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization — not in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan. Similarly, the government has also failed to designate both the Haqqani Network and HIG. (Hekmatyar himself, in his individual capacity, has been designated as a “global terrorist” since 2003.)
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