It's difficult to interpret the widely-touted deal between the U.S. and Afghanistan over night raids in any way other than as a political gift to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On Sunday night, the U.S. signed an agreement saying that night raids can only be approved by an "all-Afghan body called the Afghan Operational Coordination Group." The issue over who controls the unpopular night raids is hugely contentious in Afghanistan as numerous civilians have been killed during night sweeps. However, as reporters have gotten their hands on the agreement, it appears to offer Karzai an applause line for speeches rather than significant changes in the way raids are carried out.
For one, U.S.-led night raids aren't actually coming to an end, contrary to earlier reports. In interviews with military officials, Wired's Spencer Ackerman finds that the agreement carries a number of asterisks and caveats. "The restrictions only apply to missions where there’s a reasonable chance of taking Afghans prisoner or 'search[ing] a residential house or compound,'" writes Ackerman, citing a statement from Navy Capt. John Kirby. "So if special operations forces are targeting an insurgent as he travels, or planning to ambush a Taliban camp not suspected of being located inside a civilian’s home, no warrants are required."