Reports of a second, "black" prison attached to the notorious detention
facility at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan is drawing fire from
critics of President Obama's continuation of Bush-era detention
practices. The New York Times reports
that detainees are held at the site for extended periods without
access to basic services or the International Red Cross. Both the Times
and The Washington Post provide
extensive interviews with former detainees at the site. The facility is
run not by the CIA but by JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, a
part of the military.
- 'No Possible Excuse' An anonymous lawyer at the liberal blog Unfogged writes, "There's no possible excuse for this -- it's not as if there's domestic
political pressure that makes abiding by international law and norms of
civilized behavior in this regard particularly difficult. No part of
the public who would think of this as being soft on terrorists is
paying enough attention to make it an issue. I would really like to be
making excuses for the Obama administration as generally well
intentioned on this sort of human rights issue, but I have no idea at
all of how one could possibly justify this sort of thing."
- America's Detention Problem The Washington Independent's Daphne Eviatar argues, "the stories emphasize the point I’ve been making for a while now that
even if President Obama manages to close the Guantanamo Bay detention
center in the next several months (he’s already conceded he’s not going to meet his original January deadline), that’s not going to completely solve the United States’ image problem when it comes to prisoner mistreatment and abuse — because we still have Bagram," she writes. "[G]iven the secrecy that still surrounds the Bagram facility and its
inmates, and the fact that the wing of the prison operated by Special
Operations forces is even more secretive and closed to the ICRC, the
Obama administration is going to have a hard time answering these
- Why Did Phil Carter Quit? Mark Kleiman wonders. "Up until last week, my tendency was to brush off such accusations.
As long as [Pentagon official] Phil Carter was in charge of detainee affairs, I had
complete confidence that the right things were being done. This week Carter quit. For 'personal reasons.' I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach."
- ...And Greg Craig Digby is less uncertain.
"I don't know if this information also had anything to do with the
resignations of [Whit House counsel] Greg Craig and Philip Carter, the
two men most associated with Obama's stated policy to end these
practices, but you cannot help but wonder."
Despite being commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, McChrystal does
not fully command JSOC forces, a cumbersome command relationship that
McChrystal’s August strategy review discussed mitigating. But
McChrystal comes out of the JSOC community, giving him more influence
over JSOC operations than most theater commanders. And so does his new chief of detention operations,
Vice Adm. Robert Harward, who was McChrystal’s deputy at JSOC. What’s
more, McChrystal is the first commander in the Afghanistan war to treat
the perspectives of the Afghan people as "strategically decisive," as he put it in his June confirmation hearings.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.