Saturday, January 24, 2009

Guantanamo domino effect?

With an order now in place to close Guantanamo Bay, Barack Obama may come under pressure to follow suit with in-country detention facilities in Afghanistan.
As President Barack Obama declared with a fanfare his intention to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention camp last week, he made no mention of another growing US-run prison - with more than twice as many inmates and an even murkier legal status.

More than 600 detainees are held at the US Bagram Theatre Internment Facility - known by campaigners as "the other Guantanamo". Not only are there no plans to close it, but it is in the process of being expanded to hold 1,100 illegal enemy combatants; prisoners who cannot see lawyers, have no trials and never see any evidence there may be against them.

[ ... ]

"If they close Guantanamo and they expand the one in Bagram, it's the same - there will be no difference," said Lal Gul, chairman of the Afghanistan Human Rights Organisation.

"If Barack Obama wants to close Guantanamo he should also set out to close not just Bagram, but detention centres in Khost, Kandahar and Jalalabad."
The article describes some detainees who were allegedly "snitched" on by members of rival clans or tribes with an axe to grind, and those cases are surely worthy of review to make sure we're actually holding someone for cause. But just as surely, those detainees are very few compared with the number of prisoners caught firing an AK or RPG at coalition forces in combat.

But, yeah, what the hell. Let's just engage in a perpetual game of catch and release in Afghanistan. After all, our eight years of pure, delicious crazy have just begun.

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