Aren’t you glad we have a constitutional lawyer as president?
Under a U.S. military system straight out of Kafka’s “The Trial” and Heller’s “Catch-22”, some 1,700 detainees at the Bagram U.S. Air Base in Afghanistan are being held without charges or a trial, primarily on the basis of secret evidence that they never get to see or challenge.
A still-classified 2009 Marine Corps general’s report concluded that many, probably a majority, were wrongly held then. But it was virtually impossible then and now for innocent detainees to prove they are not allied with insurgents.
[…] 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.)