Is the U.S. Prison in Afghanistan an Overlooked Version of Guantánamo?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Bagram Prison (photo: Department of the Army)

When the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan next year, it may still be operating “Gitmo 2” if the Obama administration has its way.


Since the American military campaign began in the country more than a decade ago, the U.S. has operated a top-level prison at Bagram Airfield. Over time Bagram became home not only for Afghan insurgents, but also for terrorism suspects from other nations captured by the U.S.


As part of its plans for withdrawing combat forces, the U.S. transferred all of its Afghan prisoners held at Bagram to the Afghanistan government. But it still holds 67 non-Afghan detainees at the facility, including some “hardened al-Qaeda operatives seized from around the world in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,” according to Kevin Sieff of The Washington Post.


The question now is what to do with these individuals, most of whom are from Pakistan and deemed too dangerous to release by the administration. This despite the fact that informal military review boards cleared many of them, the newspaper reported. None of them have been put on trial. Unlike the prisoners at Guantánamo, those at Bagram do not have habeas corpus rights.


General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, told the Post that there is no plan right now for moving the prisoners. But, he added, there is a desire to shut down the prison.


Other American officials would prefer to keep the prison open under U.S. supervision after all American forces have pulled out. But that option would probably require approval by the Afghan government, which has clashed numerous times with Washington over U.S. military operations and policies.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

In Afghanistan, a Second Guantanamo (by Kevin Sieff, Washington Post)

Bagram: The Other Guantanamo (by John Knefel, Rolling Stone)

Afghan Government Demands Obama Turn over Prisoners Held at U.S. Base (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Is Bagram Obama’s Guantánamo? (AllGov)


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