Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his decision to free 65 suspected militants is "of no concern" to the United States, but the prisoner release has further strained relations between Washington and Kabul.
CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett joined the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts from the White House, where officials have said they are “disappointed” with Karzai’s decision.
Garrett explained that the relationship between President Obama and Karzai is virtually non-existent at this point.
“Repeated U.S. protests against this prisoner release not only fell on deaf ears but may have accelerated and intensified Karzai's defiance,” he said.
The United States believes the released prisoners are indeed dangerous and have committed acts of war or terror against U.S. and NATO forces, and officials fear that some may have already returned to the battlefield.
“The Afghan government ignored much of the evidence the U.S. provided and claims that the prisoners and the prison itself at Bagram Airbase violated Afghan sovereignty,” said Garrett. “The United States contends there was more than enough evidence to prosecute these Taliban prisoners under Afghan law and the sovereignty argument is essentially a sham.”
While Karzai leaves office in April, Garrett told the co-hosts that the one remaining question is whether he will sign a security agreement already negotiated with the U.S. that allows a residual force of American forces to remain in the country after 2014.
“The United States has said that agreement must be signed soon or those U.S. forces will pull out entirely,” he said. “What remains unclear is whether Karzai will sign it or if the United States will swallow that demand and wait for the new Afghan government post-April to make a decision about the size of that residual U.S. force.”