"Everything we continue to hear about Bagram sounds too much like the stories of Guantanamo."

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The Legacy of Bagram Lives On

by: possum

Sat Mar 07, 2009 at 07:44:13 AM EST

Bagram Air Base has for some time now housed a detention center in which people captured outside the U.S. soil are held under conditions of secrecy.  Recent news told the story of expansion of the detention center under the Obama administration.  The planned expansion will allow the continuing detention of as many as 1100.

As with all the news these days of detention and of prisoner abuse we always must be wary of what is not being learned.  What is hidden to this day?  Under the Bush administration we heard the terrible stories of Abu Graib and missed the issue of rendition.  Today we have Bagram and an administration admitting to continued support for rendition.  The tales continue to arrive on a near daily basis.

Obama has promised to close Guantanamo and to put an end to torture, yet the expansion of Bagramcontinues to this day.

(Bagram detention center) opened in 2002 on an abandoned Soviet air base the US had occupied and was being massively upgraded after the invasion of Afghanistan, and that its purpose was to hold prisoners in the global "war on terror" at a place as far removed as possible from the prying eyes of American courts or international oversight bodies of any sort. In fact, many of those eventually transported to Guantanamo were originally held under even worse conditions at Bagram and, from early on, they had reported beatings, abuse and a startlingly wide range of other forms of mistreatment there.
Recent SCOTUS rulings suggest detainees at Bagram will not be given the protection of U.S. law insofar as they were detained on foreign soil and continue to be held outside U.S. sovereign territory.

The story of Bagram in days past is a sordid one.

Two Afghans, Dilawar and Jullah Habibullah, had been beaten to death by US Army interrogators at the prison in December 2002.
The 2004 Church report tells us
military interrogators and guards at Bagram had been given next to no relevant training for the mission of detention and interrogation.
And a secret CIA detention center is known to exist separate from the regular detention center.  

Accurate information about the Bagram center is difficult to obtain even in these days of the Obama administration.

News sources had often reported approximately 500-600 prisoners in custody at Bagram, but an accurate count is not available.
Information given to a judge in the U.S. in recent days remains classified.  The Red Cross has visited the center but there is no way to know if or not the organization inspected the entire facility.
Their (ICRC) confidential report from 2008 supposedly highlighted overcrowding, the use of extreme isolation as a punishment technique and various violations of the Geneva Convention.
Last spring, the International Herald Tribune reported that Afghans from Bagram were sometimes tried in Afghan criminal proceedings where little evidence and no witnesses were presented.
Everything we continue to hear about Bagram sounds too much like the stories of Guantanamo.  Even the Obama administration adheres to the position of not allowing habeus for the detainees in accordance with U.S. court rulings.
The US government refuses to make public any documentation that would support its case and the new court documents, submitted by the lawyers of the Obama Justice Department, are frustratingly blacked out just as those of the Bush era Justice Department always were.
The Obama administration entered office with bold promises of openness and change.  Now is the time for that process to take place around the world.  Let us see the information about Bagram and other detention centers which may not yet even be identified.
It's time for a change. It's time, in fact, to face the first and last legacy of the Bush detention era, our prison at Bagram Air Base, and deal with it.


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This page contains a single entry published on March 13, 2009 9:54 AM.

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