Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bagram: The Other Guantánamo

A few clips:
In 2005, following well-documented accounts of detainee deaths, torture, and "disappeared" prisoners, the U.S. undertook efforts to turn the facility over to the Afghan government. But thanks to a series of legal, bureaucratic and administrative missteps, the prison is still under U.S. military control. And a recent confidential report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reportedly complained about the continued mistreatment of prisoners.

The ICRC report is said to cite massive overcrowding, "harsh" conditions, lack of clarity about the legal basis for detention, prisoners held "incommunicado", in "a previously undisclosed warren of isolation cells," and "sometimes subjected to cruel treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions." Some prisoners have been held without charges or lawyers for more than five years.

According to Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), "Bagram appears to be just as bad, if not worse, than Guantanamo. When a prisoner is in American custody and under American control, our values are at stake and our commitment to the rule of law is tested."

She told IPS, "The abuses cited by the Red Cross give us cause for concern that we may be failing the test. The George W. Bush administration is not content to limit its regime of illegal detention to Guantanamo, and has tried to foist it on Afghanistan."


The prisoners were chained to the ceiling and beaten, causing their deaths. Military coroners ruled that both the prisoners" deaths were homicide.


"We know that the CIA was holding "ghost prisoners" -- prisoners held in secret, hidden from the Red Cross -- at a secret facility called the 'Salt Pit' in Afghanistan," Shamsi says. She notes that the administration has never renounced the CIA's illegal secret detention and interrogation programme that President Bush revealed in September 2006. She adds concern that Special Operations forces may not be following Department of Defence directives on the registration of prisoners.

According to Shamsi, "It is clear that another lesson from the torture scandal seems to have been ignored: different rules for different agencies and different prisoners are an invitation to abuse."
Hat tip to thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse.

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