Bagram Theater Internment Facility

From WikiAlpha
Jump to: navigation, search
The below content is licensed according to Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License contrary to the public domain logo at the foot of the page. It originally appeared on The original article might still be accessible here. You may be able to find a list of the article's previous contributors on the talk page.

Aerial view of the Parwan Detention Facility (PDF) in 2009.

The Parwan Detention Facility (PDF), also called the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, is a United States-run prison located next to Bagram Airfield in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan. It was formerly known as the Bagram Collection Point. While initially intended as a temporary location, this facility now has lasted longer and accumulated more detainees than the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[1] As of early June 2011 the Obama administration holds 1700 prisoners at the military base while there were previously about 600 prisoner under the Bush administration. None of the prisoners received POW status.[2] An Memorandum of Understanding to transfer control of the Parwan Detention Facility from the United States to Afghanistan was signed on March 9, 2012.[3][4][5] According to Al Jazeera the agreement "will put an Afghan general in charge of Parwan [...] within days, [...] but will also give a six-month window to gradually transfer detainees to Afghan oversight. According to the document, the US will continue to provide logistical support for 12 months and a joint US-Afghan commission will decide on any detainee releases until a more permanent pact is adopted."[5]

The treatment of inmates at the facility is under scrutiny since two Afghan detainees died in the 2002 Bagram torture and prisoner abuse case. These incidents led to prisoner abuse charges against several American troops. Concerns about lengthy detentions also have drawn comparisons with U.S. detention centers in Guantanamo Bay on Cuba and Abu Graib in Iraq. Part of the interment facility is called the Black jail.[2][6]

Physical site

Construction of the new detention facility
Inside view of a cell after completion in 2009
Inside the multi-bed room

During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan the Red Army built Bagram Airfield.[7][8][9] The airfield included large hangars that fell into disrepair after the Soviets left.

When the US military and their allies ousted the Taliban, US forces took possession of the former Soviet base. The US military didn't need the volume of hangar space, so a detention facility was built inside the large unused hangars. Like the first facilities built at Guantanamo's Camp X-Ray, the cells were built of wire mesh. However, only captives held in solitary confinement have a cell of their own.[10] The other captives share larger open cells with other captives.

According to some accounts, captives were provided with shared buckets to use as toilets, and did not have access to running water.[11] Although captives share their cells with dozens of other captives, there are also reports that they are not allowed to speak with one another, or even to look at one another.[10]

During an interview on PBS, Chris Hogan, a former interrogator at Bagram, described the prisoner's cells in early 2002.[12]

"I can't speak to what the conditions may be like now. But in my tenure, the prison population lived in an abandoned Soviet warehouse. The warehouse had a cement floor and it was a huge square-footage area.
"On the floor of that, what must have been some sort of an airplane hangar, six prison cages were erected, which were divided by concertina wire ... Those prison cages had a wooden floor, a platform built above the cement floor of the hangar. Each prisoner had a bunch of blankets, a small mat, and in the back of each one of those cages was a makeshift toilet, the same type of toilet that the soldiers used, which was a 50-gallon drum, halved with diesel fuel put in the bottom of it and a wooden kind of seat to that platform ... It's very similar, incidentally, to the conditions that the soldiers lived in; almost identical."

According to an article by Tim Golden, published in the January 7, 2008 issue of the New York Times, captives in the Bagram facility were still being housed in large communal pens.[13]

Permanent replacement facilities for the original temporary facilities constructed in 2001 were completed in September 2009.[14] According to The Nation transfer of the 700 captives to the new facilities will begin in late November 2009 completed by the end of 2009. Brigadier General Mark Martins, Bagram's commandant, told reporters that the facility had always met international and domestic standards.

Although the new facility is near the previous facility, it DoD sources sometimes refer to it as the Parwan facility, as if it had no link to the original Bagram facility.[15]

Torture and prisoner abuse

At least two deaths have been verified in the last decade: captives are known to have been beaten to death by GIs manning the facility, in December 2002.[16]

Captives who were confined to both Bagram and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp have recounted that, while in Bagram, they were warned that if they did not cooperate more fully, they would be sent to a worse site in Cuba.[17][18] Captives who have compared the two camps have said that conditions were far worse in Bagram.[19]

In May 2010, nine Afghan former detainees reported to the ICRC that they had been held in a separate facility (known as the black jail) where they had been subject to isolation in cold cells, sleep deprivation, and other forms of torture. The U.S. military denies there is a separate facility for detainees.[20]

In early 2012, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered that control of the Parwan Detention Facility be handed over to Afghan authorities after some inmates complained of being strip searched and put in solitary confinement.[21][22][23]

High profile escapes

When the GIs implicated in the December 2002 homicides were about to face court martial, four prisoners escaped from Bagram. At least one of these was a prosecution witness, and was thus unable to testify.[8][24]

Legal status of detainees

The George W. Bush administration avoided using the label "prisoner of war" when discussing the detainees held at Bagram, preferring to immediately classify them as "unlawful enemy combatants". This way, it is not necessary under the Geneva Conventions to have a competent tribunal determine their classification. (In previous conflicts such as the Vietnam War, Army Regulation 190-8 Tribunals determined the status of prisoners of war.)

The administration also initially argued that these detainees could not access the US legal system. However, the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Rasul v. Bush confirmed that captives in US jurisdiction did indeed have the right to access US courts. Rasul v. Bush determined that the Executive Branch did not have the authority, under the United States Constitution, to suspend the right for detainees to submit writs of habeas corpus.

Another consequence of the Supreme Court's ruling in Rasul v. Bush was the establishment of Combatant Status Review Tribunals to review and confirm the information that initially led each captive to be classified as an enemy combatant. The Department of Defense (DoD) convened these tribunals for every captive in Guantanamo Bay, but they did not apply to Bagram. The current legal process governing the status of Bagram captives is the Enemy Combatant Review Board, described by Eliza Griswold in The New Republic:

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.

On February 20, 2009, the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama announced it would continue the policy that detainees in Afghanistan could not challenge their detention in US courts.[25]

On April 2, 2009 US District Court Judge John D. Bates ruled that those Bagram captives who had been transferred from outside Afghanistan could use habeas corpus.[26] The BBC quoted Ramzi Kassem, lawyer for one of the men:

"Today, a US federal judge ruled that our government cannot simply kidnap people and hold them beyond the law."

The Obama administration appealed the ruling. A former Guantanamo Bay defense attorney, Neal Katyal, led the government's case.[27][28]

The decision was reversed on May 21, 2010, the appeals court unanimously ruling that Bagram detainees have no right to habeas corpus hearings.[29]

There is a reason we have never allowed enemy prisoners detained overseas in an active war zone to sue in federal court for their release. It simply makes no sense and would be the ultimate act of turning the war into a crime.|Senator Lindsey Graham

Captives access to video link

On January 15, 2008 the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US military set up a pilot project to allow certain well behaved prisoners not in solitary confinement in Bagram to communicate with visitors over a videolink.[30] The ICRC will provide captives' families with a subsidy to cover their travel expenses to the video-link's studio.

General Douglas Stone's report on the Bagram captives

According to National Public Radio a General in the United States Marine Corps Reserve recently filed a 700 page report on the Bagram internment facility and its captives.[31][32] According to senior officials who have been briefed by Major General Douglas Stone, he reports, "up to 400 of the 600 prisoners at the U.S.-run prison at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan have done nothing wrong and should be released." According to Daphne Eviatar, writing in the Washington Independent, Stone recommended that the USA should try to rehabilitate any genuine enemies it holds, rather than simply imprisoning them.

General Stanley McChrystal's assessment

According to Chris Sands, writing in The National, in a leaked report General Stanley McChrystal wrote: “Committed Islamists are indiscriminately mixed with petty criminals and sex offenders, and they are using the opportunity to radicalise and indoctrinate them... hundreds are held without charge or without a defined way ahead”.[33]

According to The Guardian McChrystal wrote:[34] “There are more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan. Unchecked, Taliban/al-Qaida leaders patiently co-ordinate and plan, unconcerned with interference from prison personnel or the military.”


According to Tim Golden of the New York Times, in 2008, the number of people held in Bagram had doubled since 2004, while the number of people held in Guantanamo had been halved.[13]

A graphic published to accompany Golden's article showed approximately 300 captives in Bagram, and approximately 600 in Guantanamo, in May 2004, and showed the reverse in December 2007.[35]

On August 23, 2009 the United States Department of Defense reversed its policy on revealing the names of its captives in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the Bagram Theater Internment Facility.[36][37] and announced that their names would be released to the International Committee of the Red Cross. In January 2010, the names of 645 detainees were released. This list was prompted by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in September 2009 by the American Civil Liberties Union, whose lawyers had also demanded detailed information about conditions, rules and regulations.[38][39]

The number of people imprisoned sharply increased under the Obama administration reaching 1700 in June 2011.[2]

Reports of new Bagram review boards

On September 12, 2009 it was widely reported that unnamed officials told Eric Schmitt of the New York Times that the Obama administration was going to introduce new procedures that would allow the captives held in Bagram, and elsewhere in Afghanistan, to have their detention reviewed.[40][41][42][43][44] Josh Gerstein, of Politico, reported Tina Foster, director of the International Justice Network, and a lawyer who represents four Bagram captives, was critical of the new rules:

“These sound almost exactly like the rules the Bush Administration crafted for Guanatmamo that were struck down by the Supreme Court or at least found to be an inadequate substitute for judicial review. They’re adopting this thing that [former Vice President] Cheney and his lot dreamt up out of whole cloth. To adopt Gitmo-like procedures seems to me like sliding in the wrong direction.”

According to Radio Free Europe, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director, Sam Zia Zarifi, paraphrasing Major General Douglas M. Stone's report on the USA's detentions in Afghanistan: "pointed out that the lack of a legal structure for Bagram means that it is undermining the rule of law in Afghanistan and it has caused a lot of resentment among Afghans.".[45]

See also


  1. "Bagram detention center now twice the size of Guantanamo"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. Rod Nordland (March 9, 2012). "U.S. and Afghanistan Agree on Prisoner Transfer as Part of Long-Term Agreement". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  4. Mirwais Harooni (March 9, 2012). "Afghanistan and U.S. sign prison transfer deal". Reuters. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Afghanistan and US sign prison transfer deal". Al Jazeera. March 10, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  6. Vice Admiral Albert T. Church III (Thursday, March 10, 2005). "ISTF Final Report" (PDF). Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  7. "Afghanistan — Bagram Airbase". Global Security. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Bagram: US base in Afghanistan". BBC. February 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  9. Sanjeev Miglani (June 8, 2002). "Afghan air force ready for take off, just needs planes". Daily Times (Pakistan). Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ron Synovitz (October 5, 2006). "Afghanistan: Kabul Seeks Release Of More Bagram Detainees". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  11. "Moazzqam Begg v. George W. Bush". United States Department of Defense. July 2, 2004,. p. 62. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  12. "Interview: Chris Hogan on U.S. Detention Facilities". NOW (PBS). July 28, 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Tim Golden (January 7, 2008). "Defying U.S. Plan, Prison Expands in Afghanistan". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  14. "New US Afghan prison unveiled". The Nation (Pakistan). 2009-11-16. Archived from the original on 2009-11-16. 
  15. Lisa Daniel (2010-08-06). "Task Force Ensures Fair Detainee Treatment, Commander Says". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 2010-08-12. "For those transferred to the detention center at Parwan, a detainee review board must be held within 60 days, and every 60 days thereafter, to determine whether the person still poses a threat that warrants continued detention."  mirror
  16. "Army completes investigations of deaths at Bagram and forwards to respective commanders for action". United States Department of Defense. October 14, 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  17. Allegations and response (.pdf), from Abdullah Mohammad Khan's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 59-63
  18. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Abdullah Mohammad Khan's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 14-20
  19. Tim Golden (May 20, 2005). "In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  20. Red Cross confirms 'second jail' at Bagram, Afghanistan, BBC, May 11, 2010
  21. Karzai demands US hand over Bagram prison January 5, 2012.
  22. Karzai demands US hand over prison to Afghans
  23. Karzai demands transfer of U.S. military prison near Bagram to Afghan control
  24. "Afghanistan: Manhunt Continues For Four Suspected Al-Qaeda Fighters". Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. 2005-07-12. 
  25. Obama admin. backs Bush: No constitutional rights for detainees at Afghanistan base, Associated Press, February 20, 2009
  26. "Foreign detainees 'have US right'". BBC News. 2009-04-02. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  27. Shapiro, Ari (2009-09-15). "Rights Groups Decry U.S. Stand On Bagram Detainees". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  28. Gerstein, Josh (2010-01-05). "A Gitmo bar turncoat?". The Politico. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  29. Savage, Charlie (2010-05-21). "Detainees Barred From Access to U.S. Courts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  30. "Visual chat facility for Afghan prisoners". One World South Asia. January 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  31. Tom Bowman, Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne (2009-08-20). "U.S. Gen. Urges Release Of Bagram's Detainees". National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. 
  32. Daphne Eviatar (2009-08-20). "U.S. General: Most Bagram Detainees Should Be Released". Washington Independent. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. 
  33. Chris Sands (2009-10-15). "Prisons’ legacy haunts Afghanistan". The National. Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. 
  34. Jon Boone (2009-10-14). "US to tackle breeding ground for insurgents in Afghan jails: Ex-Taliban officials advise taskforce on ways to de-radicalise inmates and reform prisons". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. 
  35. Tim Goldenedfjkdsgjsdlkjgkldfsglkjsdfk (January 7, 2008). "Where the Detainees Have Been Held". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  36. Eric Schmidt (2009-08-22). "U.S. Shifts, Giving Detainee Names to the Red Cross". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  37. Greg Miller (2009-08-23). "US backdown on secret suspects in camps". Western Australia Today. Archived from the original on 2009-08-23. 
  38. "Bagram Detainees Named by U.S."
  39. "US releases names of prisoners at Bagram, Afghanistan"
  40. Eric Schmitt (2009-09-12). "U.S. to Expand Review of Detainees in Afghan Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  41. "US plans Afghan prisoner overhaul". BBC News. 2009-09-13. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  42. Karen DeYoung, Peter Finn (2009-09-13). "U.S. Gives New Rights To Afghan Prisoners Indefinite Detention Can Be Challenged". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  43. Josh Gerstein (2009-09-12). "Pentagon debuts new process for Bagram prisoners". Politico. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  44. "Obama to change policy on detainees at Afghan base-NYT". Reuters. 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  45. Ron Synovitz (2009-09-14). "New U.S. Plan Reportedly To Let Afghan Prisoners Challenge Incarceration". Radio Free Europe. Archived from the original on 2009-09-14. 

External links

rough work

some urls archive cite [1] "US might keep Bagram secret prison detainees even after end of Afghan War". Russia Today. Archived from the original on 2014-09-30. Retrieved 2014-10-17. [2] Shahab Siddiqi (2014-10-15). "From one black-hole to the next". The News (Pakistan). Archived from the original on 2014-10-16. Retrieved 2014-10-17. "For 10 years, Amanatullah Ali’s wife and five children – the youngest of whom is too young to even remember him – have waited day and night, praying for the day he will finally return to them. Their wait continues." [3] Jessica Donati (2014-09-29). "U.S. may keep secret prisoners after Afghan war exit". Kabul: Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2014-10-02. Retrieved 2014-10-17. "The inmates--all foreign nationals captured on battlefields around the world--could be transferred to the U.S. court system or, as a last resort, to the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Brigadier General Patrick J. Reinert told Reuters." [4] Spencer Ackerman (2014-07-16). "Revealed: the hunger strikes of America's most secret foreign prisoners". New York City: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-10-04. Retrieved 2014-10-17. "Without any visibility beyond the walls of their prison, non-Afghan detainees that the US holds in almost complete secrecy in Afghanistan have engaged in hunger strikes, the Guardian has confirmed. The hunger strikes are reminiscent, on smaller scale, of those at Guantánamo Bay that seized the world's attention last year." [5] Spencer Ackerman (2014-10-02). "Pentagon rules out transferring secret Bagram detainees to Guantánamo: US military officials scrambling to decide fate of 13 detainees currently held without charge at Afghanistan detention facility". New York City: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-10-15. Retrieved 2014-10-17. [6] . [7] Jessica Donati (2014-09-29). "U.S. seeks ways to keep Afghan detainees after mission’s end". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. Retrieved 2014-10-17. "The quandary over what to do with the detainees held in a prison near Bagram airfield, north of Kabul, has rekindled the outrage over the U.S. policy of rendition in the early phases of the Afghan war." [8] "US may keep secret prisoners in custody after Afghan exit". Asian Age. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. [9] . [10] Daphne Eviatar (2014-09-30). "Security Agrement With Afghanistan Raises Key Questions About How and When War Ends". Just Security. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. "For example, what will happen to several dozen prisoners the United States still holds at the Parwan detention facility (formerly known as Bagram) outside Kabul? The U.S. formally turned over management of the facility to Afghanistan last year, but retained control over its non-Afghan detainees. Although the United States has refused to disclose their identities, U.S. officials have unofficially revealed that most are Pakistani. Others are believed to be from Yemen, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Many have been imprisoned by the United States without charge or trial for over a decade." [11] . [12] Jessica Donati (2014-09-29). London Free Press. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17.