A US detention center in Afghanistan receives a large boost in funding shortly after the president signs an order to shut down Gitmo — Bagram Air Base a.k.a. “The Other Guantanamo”.
The US detention center at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan was brought to the public eye in the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” which focused on the innocent 22-year-old, 5’9″, 122 lbs. Afghan taxi driver, Dilawar, who was tortured to death while in US detention. Former Reserve M.P.Sgt. Thomas V. Curtis sketched Dilawar chained to the ceiling of his cell (right).
Days after Pres. Obama’s inaugu-coronation, the president signed executive orders to close secret prisons, shut down Guantanamo Bay within a year, and ban torture. The question that day was: what about Bagram?
The Global Report – “Uncertain Plans for Other Guantanamo” – 22 Jan 09 (1:34):
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports say that the worst abuses were committed at Bagram in ’02-’03, but its 2008 end of year report on Afghanistan stated that Bagram detainees have “no right to a personal advocate, no opportunity to review the evidence against them, and very little means of contesting the grounds for their detention.”
Obaidullah, accused of conspiracy to commit murder:
At his Administrative Review Board hearing in August 2005, Obaidullah denied the allegations against him and said that he had only admitted to being a member of the Taliban and planting explosive devices because he had been subjected to abusive interrogation techniques. He said that while at Bagram, US soldiers held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him if he did not confess. He said they also suspended his hands above his head for extended periods of time, subjected him to sleep deprivation, and forced him to walk all night carrying a heavy bag of sand.
During a hearing in mid-’08 on the treatment of 23-year-old Afghan named Mohammed Jawad, Mr. Jawad’s attorney, Maj. David Frakt said Bagram was “not a detention camp, but a torture chamber” and called US Army special agent Angela Birt as a witness:
Birt investigated the deaths of detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan in late 2002….
Birt described U.S. soldiers’ abuse of detainees at Bagram as “the worst I’ve ever seen.” She didn’t make the judgment lightly: She has 18 years of experience as an investigator with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and has investigated some 2,000 cases over the course of her career.
Birt said she interviewed Jawad in 2004 as part of her investigation of abuses at Bagram. Jawad told Birt that while at Bagram he had been beaten and kicked by guards, shackled and hooded, deprived of sleep, forced to stand for lengthy periods, and shoved down a flight of stairs. Jawad said that military police chained him to the door of his cell, and if he tried to sit or lie down, they would enter his cell and force him to stand. He said he often heard the screams and cries of other detainees. Jawad complained of a broken nose, chest pain and problems in urination as a result of his treatment.
Birt testified that his account was similar to those of many other detainees at Bagram.
What about Bagram?
al Jazeera – “US Expands New Detention Centre” – 20 Feb 09 (2:49):
The US is moving to expand prison facilities at its Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, even as the US administration moves to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Al Jazeera’s Hamish Macdonald reports from Afghanistan on the fears, expressed by many, that Bagram will simply replace the controversial and better known facility.
al Jazeera – “US Expands Prison in Afghanistan” – 20 Feb 09:
The US military is about to complete a $60m expansion to its prison at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, where it holds more than 600 so-called enemy combatants.…
Barack Obama, the US president, was widely praised for moving to shut down the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within days of his inauguration last month. But with his move to send 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to shore up US operations there, the Bagram prison looks set to become more visible and controversial….
Amnesty International has urged Obama to continue its break from his predecessor’s “unlawful detention policies” by ensuring that “all US detentions in Afghanistan comply with international law” and giving the detainees access to US courts.
“Judicial review is a basic safeguard against executive abuse and a protection against arbitrary and secret detention, torture and other ill-treatment and unlawful transfers from one country or government to another,” the human rights group said.
“In the absence of judicial oversight, detainees in Bagram, as at Guantanamo, have been subjected to just such abuses – even children have not been spared.”
The rights group says that most of the 615 detainees being held at Bagram without access to courts or legal counsel are Afghan nationals, and that some of them have been held for years.
Pres. Obama will uphold the policy of Bagram detainees not having the right to contest their detention in US courts as well.
Change we can believe in?