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And, yes, I DO take it personally: More on Afghanistan: Bagram, worse than Guantánamo but further away and, thus, less visible
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More on Afghanistan: Bagram, worse than Guantánamo but further away and, thus, less visible

i've posted on bagram many times... one of these days, the shit will hit the fan over bagram and it can't come too soon... when i'm in kabul, i shudder every time i think of what's going on there, just 80km up the road...

from john hanrahan at nieman watchdog...

The system of dealing with Bagram prisoners through detainee review boards (DRB), although improved upon since President Obama took office, violates universal standards on detention in that it “does not provide detainees the minimum level of due process required by international law,” according to a human rights organization’s recent report. Thus far, the report, issued May 10 by New York- and Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization Human Rights First (HRF), has been ignored by almost all the mainstream print and broadcast news media.

As Human Rights First states, the ever-growing number of Bagram detainees – most of whom are Afghans – have far fewer rights than their counterparts at the much more controversial Guantanamo Bay prison. Thanks to a 2008 Supreme Court decision, Guantanamo detainees “have the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court and to representation by a lawyer,” something Bagram prisoners are denied, the report notes.

The system has resulted in detainees being incarcerated at Bagram for eight years or more, “based largely on evidence they have never seen and with no meaningful opportunity to defend themselves,” the report says. Additionally “a significant number” of the approximately 41 non-Afghan detainees “have been recommended for release by a Detainee Review Board but remain in detention at...[Bagram]..without explanation.”

In an interview with Nieman Watchdog, the HRF report’s author, Daphne Eviatar, put that figure of 1,700 detainees into context, noting that it is “almost triple the number of detainees who were at Bagram when President Obama came into office two years ago, and is 10 times greater than the number of prisoners currently being held at Guantanamo.” In addition, it is more than twice the total number of detainees – 779 – who were ever held at Guantanamo. More than 1,300 individuals were arrested and incarcerated in Bagram in 2010 alone, compared to some 500 in 2009. Eviatar is senior associate in Human Rights First’s law and security program. (Click here for a video on Bagram by Eviatar.)

Besides violating international law, the current system “flies in the face of the well-founded wisdom of our top military leaders in the region who have warned repeatedly of the dangers of denying Afghan detainees due process,” Eviatar said in releasing the report. “Beyond the imprisonment of many likely innocent people, the lack of due process erodes support for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and ultimately undermines U.S. goals there.”

There have been past indications that a majority of the Bagram detainees are being wrongfully held. In August 2009, various news outlets reported that U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Major General Douglas M. Stone had been assigned to investigate detention practices in Afghanistan and had issued a still-unreleased 700-page classified report. As National Public Radio reported at the time, Stone told senior military officials that as many as 400 of the 600 detainees then held at Bagram could be released.

as in the previous post, imagine if you will what it would be like for any of us to have innocent family members killed or "disappeared" at the hands of a foreign power and not being able to do a damn thing about it...

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