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The Progressive

Moving Guantanamo to Bagram Could Evade Court Jurisdiction

In President Obama's first week in office, he pledged to close down Guantanamo within a year.

The year's been up for two months now, and Guantanamo still remains open.

Making matters worse, it looks like the Obama Administration may simply move Guantanamo to Afghanistan.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the "White House is considering whether to detain international terrorism suspects at [Bagram Air Base] in Afghanistan, an option that would lead to another prison with the same purpose as Guantanamo Bay."

And that purpose is to hold suspects indefinitely, without ever granting them any due process rights.

The Supreme Court has ruled that suspects held at Guantanamo have due process rights because Guantanamo is effectively U.S. property. But the Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, says that this court decision does not apply to Bagram Air Base.

Last September, Obama's Justice Department told a lower court that "when it comes to military facilities, unlike Guantanamo, that are truly abroad-particularly those halfway across the globe in an active war zone-courts in the United States exceed their role by second-guessing the political branches about the reach of habeas jurisdiction."

Until the Court resolves that question, Obama can ship detainees from Guantanamo - or anywhere else in the world - to Bagram Air Base and hold them there for years at a time.

It's against international law, but that hasn't stopped a President before.

So it looks like make Guantanamo may soon be Spanish for Bagram, and both will translate into human rights violations.

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Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is senior editor of The Progressive magazine.

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