Dem Rep Lobbied to Close Guantanamo While It Held Top Taliban Leaders

While working as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist, a New Jersey House Democrat lobbied for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, where senior Taliban government leadership were then imprisoned.

Rep. Tom Malinowski led the charge to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison—which holds some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and criminals—as early as 2007, arguing through lobbying channels and academic journals. As a Human Rights Watch lobbyist Malinowski advocated a Senate measure introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) that would have closed the facility and released some inmates to their countries of origin.

In 2014, Malinowski joined the Obama administration as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor. During his tenure there, the Obama administration released five Taliban detainees in exchange for U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl. Four of the detainees released in the swap have now returned to power in Afghanistan’s newly installed jihadist government. Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Mohammad Fazl all returned to Afghanistan after stints in Guantanamo and will occupy positions in the Taliban government overseeing issues from defense and intelligence to culture and tourism.

Wasiq is the new director of intelligence for Afghanistan. He was in Guantanamo Bay from 2002 to 2014. Noori, the Taliban’s border chief, deputy defense minister Fazl, and information and culture minister Khairkhwa also were imprisoned in Guantanamo during that time. During those years, Malinowski actively worked to close the prison camp.

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