A Very Disturbing Report

Well, a very disturbing report coming out of Afghanistan, and that's the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

According to The New York Times, seven high-ranking Taliban officials surrendered to a local warlord in Afghanistan, and he immediately set them free.  One of those guys was the Taliban minister of justice allegedly responsible for a variety of atrocities.

Yet when asked about the Senate, a U.S. Marine spokesman, Lieutenant James Jarvis, is quoted by the Times as saying, "We're not in the business of determining who should and who should not be in custody right now."

What?  What?

If American forces are not supposed to round up Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists, then why are we even over there?  Are you telling me that some corrupt Afghan warlord is supposed to make decisions about who remains in custody?  That's not why we're fighting this war, to empower brutal Afghan warlords.  Let's keep our eye on the ball here.

Terrorists attacked America and killed 3,000 people.  The two main perpetrators of the atrocity, bin Laden and Mullah Omar, have avoided capture for four months.  Now a Marine spokesman is saying the U.S. is not the last word on who becomes a prisoner of war?

Something very, very wrong on the ground in Afghanistan.  American air power destroyed the Taliban government, but now we seem to be pulling back and allowing war criminals to remain free.  This has got to stop, obviously.

Frankly, I don't care much about the Afghan government as long as it doesn't allow terrorists to operate.  I realize that tribalism in Afghanistan will prevent any kind of cohesive government there, and there's nothing anybody can do about that.

But the Bush administration must enforce war discipline and not allow corrupt Afghans to call the shots on the Taliban or anybody else.  The warlord who released those Taliban captives should be publicly rebuked and punished.

This is no time for the American war on terrorism to pull back, and the fact that Omar and bin Laden remain at large is embarrassing.  The fact that seven Taliban leaders were released without American approval is disgraceful.

The U.S. command needs to toughen up, and fast.

And that's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day," which is really a "thank you very much." Over the Christmas buying season, The No Spin Zone book dominated sales across the United States.  Nearly a million books are in print after just three months.  So to all of you who gave the book as a present, I hope it was well received and that they didn't bounce it off your head, coming back at you.  And I am very, very grateful.  Thank you very much.

— You can watch Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com