"The United States has for several years been secretly releasing high-level detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups," reports The Washington Post, which calls the program "a bold effort to quell violence, but one that U.S. officials acknowledge poses substantial risks."
The program gives the U.S. something of a "diplomatic channel" with the Taliban, the newspaper says. Those who are released must pledge to give up violence, but "there are no absolute guarantees" they will live up to such promises.
According to the Post: "U.S. officials would not say how many detainees have been released under the program, though they said such cases are relatively rare. The program has existed for several years, but officials would not confirm exactly when it was established."