From Abu Ghraib to Bagram?

BBC reports reliable allegations of prisoner mistreatment at the U.S. detention center at Bagram air base in Afghanistan from 2002-2008. The indicia of reliability seem high – interviews with 27 released prisoners, who are not facing any charges; each interviewed in isolation from the others; similar reports of “physical abuse, the use of stress positions, excessive heat or cold, unbearably loud noise, being forced to remove clothes in front of female soldiers.”

Some of the former prisoners received apologies when they were released. All were released without being charged. Only two of the 27 former prisoners report being treated “well.”

The Pentagon denies the charges, of course, with the usual verbiage about “isolated incidents” and “service members held accountable.”

Accountability, however, is the biggest sticking point. Prisoners at Bagram have no recourse to lawyers or courts. The Obama administration is fighting a legal challenge in the United States:

In its legal submissions, the US justice department argues that because Afghanistan is an active combat zone it is not possible to conduct rigorous inquiries into individual cases and that it would divert precious military resources at a crucial time.

They also argue that granting legal rights to detainees could harm Mr Obama’s “ability to succeed in armed conflict and to protect United States’ forces” by limiting his powers to conduct military operations.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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