FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Black Site Prison

by DAVE LINDORFF

A victory for the government in a federal court in New York Monday marks another slide deeper into Dick Cheney’s “dark side” for the Obama Administration.

In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been seeking to force the Pentagon to provide information about all captives it is holding at its huge prison facility at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul in Afghanbistan, Federal District Judge Barbara Jones of the Southern District of New York has held that the government may keep that information secret.

The lingering question is: Why does the US government so adamantly want to hide information about where captives were first taken into military custody, their citizenship, the length of their captivity, and the circumstances under which they were captured?

Says Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, “The military says that they can’t release the information because it would be a threat to national security, but they provided that information for the prisoners at Guantanamo.”

And of course, as our leaders informed us repeatedly, those captives at Guantanamo, who hailed from all over the globe, including Afghanistan, were allegedly “the worse of the worst”–at least until it turned out that many of them were wholly innocent of anything. had been framed and turned in for a bounty, or were mere children when picked up, like Omar Khadr, the 24-year old Canadian man who just copped a guilty plea to avoid a sham tribunal before 7 officers and potential life imprisonment, after being captured at 15, tortured at Bagram, and held for nine years at Guantanamo (on a charge of killing an American soldier in battle).

The court ruling keeping the information about the thousands of prisoners held at Bagram secret may be a victory for the government, but it is hardly a victory for America’s image in the world, or for the troops battling in Afghanistan, who will be attacked all the harder by people induced to fight to the death to avoid capture and consignment to the hellhole in Bagram (now known as Parwan Prison), which has become Afghanistan’s Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo rolled into one.

One of the things that concerns the ACLU is that by not even making public the circumstances under which Bagram detainees were brought into the prison, it appears likely that the administration is hiding the reality that many “probably don’t deserve to be there,” says the ACLU’s Goodman. She explains, “There could be plenty of people sitting there who were just caught up in house sweeps in Kabul, for instance.”

As well, she says that by withholding information about citizenship and about the place of initial capture, the government may be hiding the fact that it is using Bagram as it used to use Guantanamo, as a so-called “black site” for “rendering,” or bringing, people captured all around the world.

Making matters worse is a string of continuing reports from people released from Bagram, including some which are very recent, that it is a site where torture is routinely applied to prisoners.

Significantly, a second part of the court’s ruling was that the CIA does not have to confirm or deny whether it too is holding captives at Bagram. This is a serious blow too to America’s reputation and to democratic values, since when President Obama, early in his presidency, signed an executive order outlawing torture by the military, he left some major loopholes. Most significantly, he applied that order only to persons captured during “armed conflict.” Since the US doesn’t consider captives in the loosely-defined “War on Terror” to be legitimate combatants, that means many of the people held at Bagram may be considered outside of the president’s ban. The order also says captives in counterterror operations do not have to be reported to the Red Cross.

Goodman says, “Despite concerns that Bagram has become the new Guantánamo, the public remains in the dark when it comes to basic facts about the facility and whom our military is holding in indefinite military detention there. The public has a right to know how long the U.S. has kept people locked up in military detention and under what circumstances. The lack of transparency about these key facts is even more disturbing considering the possibility that the U.S. will continue holding and interrogating prisoners at Bagram well into the future. Unfortunately, today’s ruling will allow the government to continue hiding this vital information.”

When the ugly sadistic goings on at Abu Ghraib were exposed, it caused massive damage to the US, and, according to government statements at the time, ended up helping recruit more future terrorists. It seems the Obama adminstration is heading down the same road now at Bagram, with the blessing of a Judge Jones.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull, 500 Years of Trauma
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Gordon Smith
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
stclair
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered, Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail