U.S., Afghanistan at odds over prisoner release

The U.S. and Afghanistan are at odds over an Afghan plan to release dozens of prisoners. Some are accused of killing Americans and the U.S. says they remain a threat.

American officials say these prisoners are dangerous and should not go free without facing trial. It's one more disagreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who's accused of undermining an agreement made nine months ago.

Meeting with Karzai last March, Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the deal to turn over control of prisoners to the Afghan government.

"That is an appropriate restatement of America's commitment to the independent sovereignty of Afghanistan,” said Kerry. “The interests of the United States with respect to prisoners are fully protected. There's great confidence about that, or this would not have occurred.”

But U.S. commanders now say an Afghan commission has exceeded its authority by approving the release of 88 prisoners, some of whom are accused of deadly attacks on American, NATO and Afghan troops.

A spokesman for the top commander in Afghanistan warned the commission is about to release "a number of dangerous individuals who are legitimate threats and for whom there is strong evidence supporting prosecution or further investigation."

"We can try to make the case why these people are dangerous, why they should not be let out and allowed to return to the battlefield,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon told CBS News correspondent David Martin. "But if the Afghans don't want to listen, in the end, it's their country and we no longer have special privileges.”

This latest disagreement comes as Karzai is still refusing to sign an agreement that would allow U.S. and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan after 2014. White House press secretary Jay Carney said without an agreement the U.S. will have no choice but to pull out all its troops.

"We need it promptly. We need it, there is not time here.  We cannot, as has been suggested, wait for further developments in Afghanistan,” he said. 

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