What is Obama Doing at Bagram (Part 2).
By Andy Worthington
In the first of two articles about the Obama administration’s detention policies relating to the US airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan, I examined recent revelations about a secret prison inside the base, apparently run by a shadowy branch of the Pentagon, where Bush-era “enhanced interrogations,” involving sleep deprivation and isolation, are used, as authorized in Appendix M of the US Army Field Manual. This second article examines the Obama administration’s confusing attempts to bring detention policies at the main prison more in line with international accepted standards regarding the treatment of prisoners seized in wartime, with some spectacular failures — the refusal to accept that foreign prisoners rendered to Bagram from other countries should have habeas corpus rights — and some improvements, involving review boards, prisoner releases, and trials, which, nevertheless, betray the kind of confusion that will prevail while the administration insists on accepting its predecessor’s unilateral rewriting of the Geneva Conventions.
A new review process at Bagram — and the Obama administration’s struggle to withhold habeas corpus rights from foreign prisoners
Beyond the growing scandal of the “black prison,” which cries out for further investigation, the US authorities have been attempting, with rather more success, to rebrand the main prison at Bagram, opening a new facility to replace the squalid Russian factory immortalized in the bleak stories of prisoners held there in the early years, releasing the first ever list of prisoners in January, and introducing a new review process designed to release prisoners who, as Max Fisher explained for the Atlantic in March, constitute the “80 to 90 percent” of the prison’s total population — estimated, at the time, as 750 prisoners — who “are non-ideological or ‘accidental’ combatants who pose no long-term threat to the US.”
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