The focus on Guantanamo over the past couple years has been misplaced. In fact, the number of detainees there has been dissipating somewhat. The number of detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, by contrast, has exploded, with detainees captured throughout the world moved over to Bagram – and shielded from any habeas proceedings – rather than Gitmo. Bagram has become the black hole. So it’s good news, on its face, that the Administration wants to repatriate non-Afghan detainees out of Bagram.
The Obama administration is considering the repatriation of most, if not all, of the non-Afghan detainees held at the main American-run prison in Afghanistan, an effort to oversee their transfer before U.S. officials relinquish control of the facility, according to administration officials.
The foreign prisoners, who number close to 50, were in some cases picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan and in others detained in third countries and taken to the prison by the CIA, according to U.S. and foreign officials.
With the U.S. government planning to hand over control of the prison, American officials believe that Afghan authorities are unlikely to have any interest in either continuing to hold the foreigners or in putting them on trial. By beginning the repatriation process soon, officials believe they can negotiate transfers with the detainees’ home countries, arrange for post-transfer monitoring, and secure diplomatic assurances that detainees will not be abused when they return home.
I think 50 is an incredibly low number. As in, not credible. I’ve heard reports of several hundred new detainees at Bagram. And I don’t know how the Yemeni naitonals will be handled given the instability in that country.
The problem for the Administration is that they will lose control of Bagram, and thereafter lose control of the detainees. So they’re trying to work out agreements with the home countries. That’s despite the fact that Administration officials won’t even admit that all of these non-Afghan detainees represent a credible terrorist threat.
Marcy Wheeler writes that WaPo is getting spun. There was recently a successful habeas petition in the UK for a Bagram detainee and UK national. So this house of cards was about to collapse. Marcy’s conclusion.
Whatever. I guess if we have to allow the Administration to engage in these fictions to get out of the illegal detention business, I’ll take it.
Me too. And one thing I will add is that this is an indicator of winding down operations in Afghanistan.