Bagram Prison: Obama’s Guantanamo

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Next flash point over terror detainees: Bagram prison

by Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 2009

With Guantanamo set to close, more attention is falling on the US military facility in Afghanistan and those in custody there.

At the height of its operation, the terror detention camp at Guantanamo was viewed as a legal black hole, a place where Al Qaeda suspects could be held and questioned beyond the glare of judicial scrutiny.

President Obama has made the closing of the detention facility a priority. But as Guantanamo is being drawn down, large-scale construction is under way at a US military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Some critics are already calling it “Obama’s Guantanamo.” And it looks to become the next big flash point in a long legal tug of war over the direction of America’s antiterror policies.

An estimated 242 prisoners remain at Guantanamo. In contrast, more than 600 are held at Bagram, and efforts are under way to expand facilities to potentially hold as many as 1,100 terror suspects.

With the US about to escalate the war in Afghanistan, the Bagram prison is likely to play a more visible and important role in that conflict.

In the meantime, US-based lawyers are mobilizing. Some of the same lawyers and human rights activists who fought successfully to bring judicial oversight to Guantanamo are now pushing for similar oversight at Bagram.

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