You Keep Using That Word…


The NY Times reports today that, after some delay while US officials tried to, as reported this past January in the NYT, ““transition out” of the Bagram detention center”, the US will be building a new all-but-permanent detention facility in Afghanistan:

The proposed detention center would replace the cavernous, makeshift American prison on the Bagram military base north of Kabul, which is now typically packed with about 630 prisoners, compared with the 270 held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

(Yes, that Bagram military base.)

Military officials have long been aware of serious problems [*cough*] with the existing detention center in Afghanistan, the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. After the prison was set up in early 2002, it became a primary site for screening prisoners captured in the fighting. Harsh interrogation methods and sleep deprivation were used widely, and two Afghan detainees died there in December 2002, after being repeatedly struck by American soldiers.

Yep, nothing says “corporate em ess em” quite like anodyne euphemisms and amoral utilization of the passive voice. “Harsh interrogation techniques and sleep deprevation.” Oh, and, out of the blue, those two detainees coincidently just happened to die.

After being “repeatedly struck”.

By American soldiers.

Correlation != causation, natch.

Conditions and treatment have improved markedly since then, but hundreds of Afghans and other men are still held in wire-mesh pens surrounded by coils of razor wire. There are only minimal areas for the prisoners to exercise, and kitchen, shower and bathroom space is also inadequate.

Hmm, the International Committee of the Red Cross wasn’t exactly brimming with praise this past January regarding the “marked improvement” in conditions and treatment at Bagram. Some folks are just never satisfied. But, hey, at least the US took the constructive criticism to heart.

Faced with that, American officials said they wanted to replace the Bagram prison, a converted aircraft hangar that still holds some of the decrepit aircraft-repair machinery left by the Soviet troops who occupied the country in the 1980s. In its place the United States will build what officials described as a more modern and humane detention center that would usually accommodate about 600 detainees — or as many as 1,100 in a surge — and cost more than $60 million.

“Our existing theater internment facility is deteriorating,” said Sandra L. Hodgkinson, the senior Pentagon official for detention policy, in a telephone interview. “It was renovated to do a temporary mission. There is a sense that this is the right time to build a new facility.”

American officials also acknowledged that there are serious health risks to detainees and American military personnel who work at the Bagram prison, because of their exposure to heavy metals from the aircraft-repair machinery and asbestos.

“It’s just not suitable,” another Pentagon official said. “At some point, you have to say, ‘That’s it. This place was not made to keep people there indefinitely.’ ”

Yes, so, the answer then is, obviously, to build a *ahem* more “humane” facility designed to, um, keep people there indefinitely:

The Pentagon is planning to use $60 million in emergency construction funds this fiscal year to build a complex of 6 to 10 semi-permanent structures resembling Quonset huts, each the size of a football field, a Defense Department official said. The structures will have more natural light, and each will have its own recreation area. There will be a half-dozen other buildings for administration, medical care and other purposes, the official said.

A luxury resort! It appears that the Pentagon is finally going to import the “beautiful, sunny Guantanamo Bay” experience to Central Asia. With a few bargain discounts, that is:

Military personnel who know both Bagram and Guantánamo describe the Afghan site, 40 miles north of Kabul, as far more spartan. Bagram prisoners have fewer privileges, less ability to contest their detention and no access to lawyers.

Some detainees have been held without charge for more than five years, officials said. As of April, about 10 juveniles were being held at Bagram, according to a recent American report to a United Nations committee.

Apparently designating a detention facility as “humane” doesn’t preclude the acknowledgment of basic human rights. A 2007 report published by The New Republic provides more details on the legal limbo detainees in Bagram find themselves in:

Prisoners don’t even have the limited access to lawyers available to prisoners in Guantánamo. Nor do they have the right to Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which Guantánamo detainees won in the 2004 Supreme Court ruling in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. Instead, if a combat commander chooses, he can convene an Enemy Combatant Review Board (ECRB), at which the detainee has no right to a personal advocate, no chance to speak in his own defense, and no opportunity to review the evidence against him. The detainee isn’t even allowed to attend. And, thanks to such limited access to justice, many former detainees say they have no idea why they were either detained or released.

DJ rewind:

“It’s just not suitable,” another Pentagon official said. “At some point, you have to say, ‘That’s it. This place was not made to keep people there indefinitely.’ ”

Well, at least they’ve seen fit to–ahem–humanely remedy that particular problem.

4 Responses to “You Keep Using That Word…”

  1. On this Issue, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. As an American citizen who knows full well the influence George Washington had on the troops with his faith, George Bush has similar interests. Al Queada doesn’t play by the rules set up by our founding fathers. They have their own rule book. Should we decide that a state of imbalance is the way to go in fighting the war on terrorism, we will have ourselves to blame when Shria law outmodes the law of the Jewish law of Yaweh and the message of Jesus Christ given to us to replace all other messages to assure peace in our time or any time. We are at a precipice in the realization that if we as a nation goof this up, there is to be no returning to American life as we know it. Forever living in fear of every foreign national that even remotely looks like an Arab or Persian. Iran has a foundation of Moslem brotherhood depicted by their current President who has combined the academic bias in living with a faith. He has no barriers to his practices unlike an American President who must jump through hoops just to prove he is not the religious zealot Amadinajad is. How can we fight a war with parity if we can’t play by the same rules that the enemy does. With our knowhow and our ability to adapt, America would do well to abandon our fear of change and meet the Islamic
    FACIST style with our own Christian FACIST style. Facism being the common denominator.

  2. matttbastard says:

    What is it with this site and its attractiveness to the lowest common denominator of grammatically (and factually) challenged wingnut trolls? Seriously, if someone out there with the power to do something about this problem is reading: please, for the love of Holy fucking God, send out some smarter flying monkeys. Or, at the very least, update their script (hint: it’s no longer 2002).

  3. DrGail says:

    So, CG, you’re saying that the way to defeat Al Qaeda is to “out fascist” the “fascists”? I can understand the appeal of that since, after all, the Crusades went sooooo well. But I have a question for you: If we let Al Qaeda draw us into a pissing contest about which religion can be the most zealous and fascist, doesn’t that mean that they win?

  4. matttbastard says:

    So, CG, you’re saying that the way to defeat Al Qaeda is to “out fascist” the “fascists”?

    Actually, he’s saying the way to defeat AQ is to “out facist[sic[” the “facists.”[sic]

    Otherwise, what Doc said. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook