Obama Administration Might Hold Non-Afghan Detainees at Bagram Indefinitely After Prison Transfer

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

Obama Administration Might Hold Non-Afghan Detainees at Bagram Indefinitely After Prison Transfer

Administration Should Not Re-Create Gitmo, Says ACLU

NEW YORK - According
to a Los Angeles Times report, a senior U.S. official said the Obama
administration wants to detain and interrogate non-Afghan terrorism
suspects captured in countries outside Afghanistan in a section of the
Bagram prison, even after it turns the prison over to Afghan control.
The proposal is reportedly in the early stages of development.

The U.S. government has stated its
intention to turn over control of the Bagram detention facility to the
Afghan government early next year. In May, a federal court ruled that
unlike at Guantánamo, prisoners in U.S. custody at Bagram, including
those who were captured far from any battlefield and brought to
Afghanistan, cannot challenge their detention in U.S. courts. That
decision paves the way for the U.S. government to use Bagram to detain
indefinitely, without any judicial oversight, terrorism suspects
captured far from any battlefield who have not been charged with a
crime.

"The Guantánamo problem is not
solved simply by recreating a Guantánamo somewhere else. Closing
Guatánamo is essential but it is equally important that the Obama
administration put an end to the illegal indefinite detention policy
behind Guantánamo," said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU
National Security Project. "The entire world is not a battlefield. We
cannot just capture people far from any zone of armed conflict and lock
up them up indefinitely without any access to the courts or due
process. Such a policy not only flies in the face of our justice
system, but opens up the possibility that mistakes will be made and the
wrong people will be imprisoned - which is exactly what we have seen at
Guantánamo."

The ACLU filed a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in September 2009 demanding information
about Bagram, which has thus far been shrouded in much secrecy. In
response to the lawsuit, the government has turned over some important
information but continues to withhold key details about the prisoners
detained at Bagram, as well as information about the implementation of
its new detainee status review procedures and about a separate "secret
jail" on the base. The secret facility is reportedly run by either the
Joint Special Operations Command or the Defense Intelligence Agency,
and detainees maintain they have been abused there. It is unclear
whether guards and interrogators at the secret facility are subject to
the same rules that apply at the main Bagram detention facility.

"The possibility of continuing to
hold and interrogate detainees at Bagram is even more disturbing given
the lack of transparency about the facility," said Goodman. "Plans to
continue holding prisoners in U.S. custody at Bagram must be
accompanied by the disclosure of key information about what currently
goes on there."

As part of the ongoing FOIA lawsuit,
the ACLU late Tuesday received several documents from the Department of
Defense (DOD) and the Department of Justice. The disclosures include a
number of detainee policy documents from the early years of the Bush
administration, including a 2004 document describing "Global Screening
Criteria for Detainees" used to determine who - no matter where they
were captured - could be detained as an enemy combatant and which
detainees could be transferred to Guantánamo. Also just turned over to
the ACLU are Obama-era records including policy guidance from February
2010 regarding access to detainees and facilities by non-DOD government
officials, foreign governments, members of the media and
representatives of non-governmental organizations that confirms non-DOD
agents can visit detainees at Bagram in order to interrogate them. The
DOD also disclosed its policy regarding the waiver of autopsy
requirements for detainee deaths.

The documents received in the ACLU FOIA lawsuit are available online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/bagram-foia-dod-and-doj-documents-released-692010

More about the FOIA lawsuit is at: www.aclu.org/national-security/bagram-foia 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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