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US Priorities at Parwan: $60 Million Prison Built Quickly, $2.7 Million Courthouse Languished

The incomplete courthouse at Parwan.

The incomplete courthouse at Parwan.

In a report issued today (pdf), SIGAR provides details on how a project to build a courthouse at the Parwan complex languished with incompetent construction and poor oversight. It was only after SIGAR provided a draft version of their report that the contracting authority changed the status of their stop-work order from one that would have allowed the contractor to receive the rest of the funds without completing the work to a status that prevented a huge financial reward for shoddy and incomplete work.

But this courthouse project does not sit in isolation. The Parwan complex, and its predecessor, the prison at Bagram, have a deep history that provides a microcosm of the atrocities and incompetence that the US war in Afghanistan has come to represent. Never forget that it was at Bagram where Joshua Claus murdered innocent taxi driver Dilawar. Dilawar was murdered at Bagram only a few short days after Habibullah was murdered there, as well. But the US had grand plans for the Bagram air base complex. From the background section of the SIGAR report:

The U.S. and Afghan governments signed a Letter of Agreement in 2006 that committed to improve governance by enhancing the administration of justice and rule of law. A key element in implementing this strategy was the development of a criminal justice facility known as the Justice Center in Parwan (JCIP). JCIP was designed to provide a secure facility for transferring Afghan combatants from U.S. military custody into the Afghan criminal justice system. The U.S. government was to assist with building, equipping, and operating the JCIP, as well as mentoring and training Afghan government personnel assigned to the facility. JCIP was planned as a complex of 11 buildings—a courthouse, offices, laboratory facilities, meeting hall, and housing—located adjacent to the existing Parwan Detention Facility, which is next to the Bagram Airfield north of Kabul. The courthouse was expected to be the centerpiece for Afghan national security trials.

But even though there was a detention facility at Parwan when that agreement was signed in 2006, the US quickly saw that its plans to detain thousands of Afghan citizens meant that a much bigger prison was needed. And indeed, a shiny new $60 million prison was opened in 2010. And yet, the contract on the courthouse at Parwan wasn’t signed until 2011:

On June 13, 2011, DOD’s Bagram Regional Contracting Center (BRCC) 3 awarded a $2.38 million firm fixedprice contract (W91B4N-11-C-8066) to CLC Construction Company (CLC) to build a courthouse at the JCIP complex.4 The design documents called for construction of a 2-story courthouse, including 4 courtrooms, 6 judge’s chambers, 23 individual offices, and 4 holding cells. CLC was given 155 days to complete the project after the notice to proceed was issued on July 16, 2011. The contract also required CLC to perform engineering, review, verification, and concept design functions. On November 11, 2011, the contract was modified to increase the height of the courthouse ceilings and, as a result, the contract value was increased from $2.38 million to $2.67 million.

It does seem that 155 days is a very short time frame for a construction project of over $2 million, especially if engineering and concept design are also included. But CLC fell behind immediately and what work they did was ridiculously incompetent: Continue reading

Obama Takes a Position to the Right of Congress on Indefinite Detention

Back when I reported on Obama’s stated intent to interpret the good part of the NDAA–the part requiring a meaningful review for all detainees held by DOD–to mean DOD could decide how long to hold people before it gave them the review mandated by Congress, I complained that Obama would hold detainees more than 6 months before granting detainees this review.

In addition, this says DOD gets to decide how long new detainees will have to wait before they get a status review with an actual lawyer–and Congress is perfectly happy making them wait over six months before that time.

Obama seems to have taken that language and pushed it further still: stating that DOD will get broad discretion to decide which reviews will carry the requirement of a judge and a lawyer.

It sort of makes you wonder why the Obama Administration wants these men to be held for over six months with no meaningful review?

It turns out I was far, far too optimistic. As Daphne Eviatar reports, Obama plans to hold detainees for three years before giving them this congressional mandated review.

On April 5, the Defense Department quietly sent a report to Congress indicating how it intends to implement a new law requiring lawyers and judges for detainees held in long-term U.S. military custody. As expected, DoD largely wrote the new rights out of existence, ensuring they’d be accorded to few, if any, detainees. What’s more, it severely limited the scope of judicial review even that small number will receive.

[snip]

Here’s how it works. According to the new regulations:

The combatant commander with responsibility for the theater of operations in which the unprivileged enemy belligerent is detained will ensure that a determination by the DRB or analogous review that the 1024(b) process is applicable is made as soon as practicable but not later than 18 months after the detainee is captured by, or transferred to the custody and control of, the Department of Defense. Additionally, the combatant commander will ensure that a Section 1024(b) review is conducted as soon as practicable after such a determination is made, but not later than 18 months after such a determination is made.

Eighteen months plus 18 months equals three years. So any newly-captured suspect is not entitled to a hearing by a military judge and represented by military defense counsel until three years after his initial detention.

What’s more:

A military judge will conduct a hearing for the purposes of determining whether the detainee is a covered person as defined in subsection (b) of Section 1021 of the Act. The review will be limited to this status determination; it will not include an assessment of the level of threat the detainee poses, nor will it serve as a substitute for the judgment of the combatant commander as to the appropriate disposition of a detainee lawfully detained by the Department of Defense.

In other words, the judge will decide only if the suspect is appropriately classified as an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” — that is, any person “who was part of or substantially supported al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” The judge will not decide whether that person actually poses a threat to U.S. forces. Yet under international law, that’s a critical part of determining whether someone can be lawfully detained in a war against insurgent groups. That critical determination will continue to be made secretly by a military commander in the field, not by the more neutral judge following an open hearing.

Someone who did laundry, cooked meals or provided medical assistance for a member of al Qaeda, the Taliban or unidentified “associated forces” could therefore continue to be detained indefinitely even after his judicial review if the commander deems him dangerous. And the commander doesn’t have to explain that decision to anyone. [my emphasis]

Those Bedouin women and children we killed in a missile strike and then excused our war crime by saying the Bedouins had been selling AQAP? They’re the kind of people that this order would include.

So in response to Congress–Congress!!!!–trying to put all our military detainees on some kind of legitimate legal footing, Obama (the guy who ran on closing Gitmo), basically blew them off and embraced still more indefinite detention.

Prediction: Latif Will Be Repatriated

The WaPo reports that the US is finally trying to resolve the cases of 50 non-Afghans we’ve had stashed at Bagram. It focuses on two Yemenis who may be repatriated.

The government of Yemen has agreed to closely monitor two Yemenis held by the U.S. military in Afghanistan if they are repatriated, and attorneys for the men asked the Pentagon on Monday to authorize the transfer of the two detainees.

Amin al-Bakri, 44, and Fadi al-Maqaleh, 26, have been cleared for release by military detainee review boards on three occasions, beginning in 2010, according to Pentagon records.

Now, these aren’t just any prisoners. They’re two of the three Bagram prisoners who tried to challenge their detention by filing a habeas corpus petition. And while the DC Circuit overturned their case, it remains alive based on the question of whether the US moved them to Bagram to ensure they’d be on an “active battlefield” where the government could deny habeas review. As Lawfare has suggested, one reason the government might want to transfer al-Bakri and al-Maqaleh is to be able to move to dismiss their case–to be able to prevent any expansion of legal review beyond GItmo.

Well, if the government is negotiating transfers of Yemeni prisoners they had already cleared for release, what are the chances they’re also negotiating transfers of Yemeni prisoners cleared for release who present even bigger legal problems for the government, like Adnan Farhan Abd al-Latif?

Latif’s SCOTUS appeal, after all, should be a slam-dunk. If habeas is to be remotely meaningful, the government can’t be permitted to just submit whatever obviously flawed intelligence document it wants, without some corroborating evidence, to justify imprisoning someone. Nevertheless, if Latif wins at SCOTUS, then all the habeas victories the government has won from a DC Circuit that has tried to undermine Boumediene at every turn could be lost.

And it would be just like the Imperial Bush-Obama continuum to resolve an important detention case to avoid SCOTUS review.

So I predict that if SCOTUS grants Latif cert, he, like al-Bakri and al-Maqaleh will be whisked off to Yemen to avoid any return of real review on the President’s authority.

Mind you, I wish all these men (who have never been charged) will be released from imprisonment the government says is unnecessary. I just suspect the government will do so in a way that keeps others imprisoned.

Agreement in Principle Signed on Handover of Afghan Prisons, Night Raid Agreement to be Separate

Creating conditions dangerously close to those under which we have been warned that Lindsey Graham’s head will explode, the US and Afghanistan have signed an agreement in principle on the handover of prisons to Afghan control. The negotiations were carried out under the pressure of dual deadlines, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai having put today as his deadline for insisting on an agreement and President Obama declaring that an agreement had to be in place before the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago.

The agreement appears to use semantics to say that the prisons are being handed over today, but with the reality being that there will be a gradual process taking six months. From the New York Times:

The memorandum of understanding would officially hand over control of detainees to an Afghan official as of Friday, but would also allow for a six-month period of transition to full Afghan control of the American-held detainees, American officials said.

As a practical matter, American officials are expected to maintain day-to-day control over the 3,200 detainees, most of them suspected Taliban insurgents.

During the six months, custody of the American-held prisoners would gradually transfer to Afghan authority, with the first 500 prisoners to be transferred within 45 days, according to American military and diplomatic officials who spoke on condition of anonymity as a matter of policy.

The move is a major concession to the Afghans, but the Americans will retain ultimate veto authority over releases of any insurgent detainees as long as American troops are in Afghanistan, and will continue to monitor humane treatment of the prisoners, the American officials said.

With the US maintaining veto power over release of any prisoners, perhaps Senator Graham will have to hold off on throwing his next tantrum, as his major objection to the handover had been that the Afghans would release prisoners who would immediately attack US troops. It’s not clear how the US will be monitoring humane treatment of the prisoners, since it is US training that put the torture methods in place to begin with.

There is no indication in this Times article, or in articles from AP carried in the Washington Post or the Reuters article about the signing of the prison agreement on when an agreement on night raids is expected. The night raid issue appears to be the one remaining sticking point that needs to be addressed before the long term status of forces agreement can be established for laying out the ground rules after the expected US withdrawal from Afghanistan late next year. Presumably, the Obama administration will be pushing to have both the night raid agreement and status of forces agreement in place before the May NATO summit.

Oh, and those non-Afghan prisoners we’re holding at Bagram that the US wants us all to forget about? They stay under US control, of course.

Karzai and US Fight over Who Gets to Run the Abusive Prisons

As I noted, President Obama reacted to the NDAA’s requirement that DOD actually review detainees’ cases to figure out if they should be held by claiming the authority to make our prison at Bagram largely exempt from the law.

At one level, having us hold detainees keeps them out of the Afghan prisons, where they’ll be tortured. But of course, the Afghans have at least managed to do what we claim to be unable to do–give these men trials.

Now, Karzai is upping the ante: demanding that the US turn over Bagram and its 3,000+ detainees next month.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered the transfer of the U.S.-run Bagram prison to his government’s control within a month, citing human rights violations.

Karzai decided the transfer should be made after hearing a report on the prison from the Constitutional Oversight Commission that “details many cases of violations of the Afghan Constitution and other applicable laws of the country, the relevant international conventions and human rights,” the president’s office said yesterday in a statement.

And in response to Karzai’s claims of abuses (which appear to be about nudity), State Department’s spokesperson and former Cheney hack Victoria Nuland basically said the same thing the Bush Administration always said: Geneva comply blah blah blah.

QUESTION: And what about his charges that – violation of human rights in these prisons?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know that we take seriously any charges or allegations of detainee abuse. We respect the rights of detainees who are in facilities that the United States manages, and we ensure that all detainees in U.S. custody are treated in accordance with international legal obligations, including Geneva Common Article III. Any specific allegations of detainee abuse are investigated fully by the Department of Defense and by ISAF.

Coming from Nuland, such reassurances are little comfort.

But then, this is basically a pissing contest over who can run abusive prisons, so it’s not comforting in any case.

The Worst Part of the Signing Statement: Section 1024

As I explained here, Obama’s signing statement on the defense authorization was about what I expected. He included squishy language so as to pretend he doesn’t fully support indefinite detention. And he basically promised to ignore much of the language on presumptive military detention.

But there was one part of the signing statement I (naively) didn’t expect. It’s this:

Sections 1023-1025 needlessly interfere with the executive branch’s processes for reviewing the status of detainees. Going forward, consistent with congressional intent as detailed in the Conference Report, my Administration will interpret section 1024 as granting the Secretary of Defense broad discretion to determine what detainee status determinations in Afghanistan are subject to the requirements of this section. [my emphasis]

Section 1024, remember, requires the Defense Department to actually establish the provisions for status reviews that Obama has promised but not entirely delivered.

SEC. 1024. PROCEDURES FOR STATUS DETERMINATIONS.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report setting forth the procedures for determining the status of persons detained pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) for purposes of section 1021.

(b) ELEMENTS OF PROCEDURES.—The procedures required by this section shall provide for the following in the case of any unprivileged enemy belligerent who will be held in long-term detention under the law of war pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force:

(1) A military judge shall preside at proceedings for the determination of status of an unprivileged enemy belligerent.

(2) An unprivileged enemy belligerent may, at the election of the belligerent, be represented by military counsel at proceedings for the determination of status of the belligerent.

(c) APPLICABILITY.—The Secretary of Defense is not required to apply the procedures required by this section in the case of a person for whom habeas corpus review is available in a Federal court.

As I’ve noted, Lindsey Graham (and other bill supporters, both the right and left of Lindsey) repeatedly insisted on this review provision. Lindsey promised every detainee would get real review of his status.

I want to be able to tell anybody who is interested that no person in an American prison–civilian or military–held as a suspected member of al-Qaida will be held without independent judicial review. We are not allowing the executive branch to make that decision unchecked. For the first time in the history of American warfare, every American combatant held by the executive branch will have their day in Federal court, and the government has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence you are in fact part of the enemy force. [my emphasis]

And yet, in spite of the fact that Section 1024 includes no exception for those detained at Bagram, Obama just invented such an exception.

Section 1024 was one of the few good parts of the detainee provisions in this bill, because it would have finally expanded the due process available to the thousands of detainees who are hidden away at Bagram now with no meaningful review.

But Obama just made that good part disappear.

Update: I’m still trying to figure out where Obama gets the Congressional intent to let the Defense Secretary pick and choose which detainees 1024 applies to. The managers’ statement says this about 1024:

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1036) that would require the Secretary of Defense to establish procedures for determining the status of persons captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), including access to a military judge and a military lawyer for an enemy belligerent who will be held in long-term detention.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes with an amendment clarifying that the Secretary of Defense is not required to apply the procedures for long-term detention in the case of a person for whom habeas corpus review is available in federal court.

Because this provision is prospective, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to determine the extent, if any, to which such procedures will be applied to detainees for whom status determinations have already been made prior to the date of the enactment of this Act.

The conferees expect that the procedures issued by the Secretary of Defense will define what constitutes “long-term” detention for the purposes of subsection (b). The conferees understand that under current Department of Defense practice in Afghanistan, a detainee goes before a Detention Review Board for a status determination 60 days after capture, and again 6 months after that. The Department of Defense has considered extending the period of time before a second review is required. The conferees expect that the procedures required by subsection (b) would not be triggered by the first review, but could be triggered by the second review, in the discretion of the Secretary. [my emphasis]

This seems to be saying two things. First, DOD doesn’t have to go back and grant everyone they’ve given the inadequate review process currently in place a new review. The 3,000 detainees already in Bagram are just SOL.

In addition, this says DOD gets to decide how long new detainees will have to wait before they get a status review with an actual lawyer–and Congress is perfectly happy making them wait over six months before that time.

Obama seems to have taken that language and pushed it further still: stating that DOD will get broad discretion to decide which reviews will carry the requirement of a judge and a lawyer.

It sort of makes you wonder why the Obama Administration wants these men to be held for over six months with no meaningful review?

England Gave Us Habeas Corpus Once Before…

Can they do it again?

The British human rights organization today won a habeas corpus petition for their client, Yunus Rahmatullah, who has been detained at Bagram for 7 years, in the English Court of Appeal.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, Lord Justice Maurice Kay, and Lord Justice Sullivan, said the case raised important principles of law. Their court ruling is the latest in a series relating to the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been highly critical of the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence.

The judges rejected a claim by a senior MoD official, Damian Parmenter, that granting a writ for habeas corpus would be “futile”.

Kay said: “On the face of it [Rahmatullah] is being unlawfully detained and [British ministers] have procedures at their disposal … to enable them to take steps which could bring the unlawful detention to an end.”

[snip]

Though Rahmatullah is in US custody, the UK is the “detaining authority pursuant to the memorandum of understanding struck between the UK and US” during the Iraq invasion, Leigh Day said. British ministers remained “responsible” for Rahmatullah under the Geneva conventions.

The decision relies on the Memorada of Understanding regarding detainees signed between the Brits and the US. The Iraqi one signed in 2003 notes, among other things, that,

Any prisoners of war, civilian internees, and civilian detainees transferred by a Detaining Power [the UK on the present facts] will be returned by the Accepting Power [the US on the present facts] to the Detaining Power without delay upon request by the Detaining Power. [brackets original]

And while the British government claims that MOU is no longer in effect, the judges aren’t buying it.

It is true that Mr Parmenter says that the Ministry of Defense believes that the first MoU is spent. However, in the light of the terms of the two MoUs, that expression of opinion is not enough to dissuade me that it is inarguable that, if the first MoU applied to a person when he was handed over, it was not intended to be disapplied simply because the second MoU was entered into or because hostilities ceased.

And after rehearsing the requirements of the Geneva Conventions (and emphasizing that the Brits had to sign these MOUs in the first place because George Bush said the Conventions didn’t apply with al Qaeda), the ruling includes this implicit threat.

It is unnecessary (and would be inappropriate) to address the question whether, by not taking that course [of demanding the US release Rahmatullah], it might, conceivably, be said that as a result of the combination of section 1 of the 1957 Act and Article 130 of Geneva IV, the UK Government could be aiding or abetting a “grave crime”.

That may not make the British request that we release Rahmatullah sufficiently persuasive to make it happen. But it sure does clarify the issues at hand, doesn’t it?

Update: English v. British corrected per chetnolian.

DC Circuit Helps Obama Turn Bagram into Black Hole

The DC Circuit just overturned a District Court opinion that granted three Bagram detainees who were captured outside of Afghanistan (though the government contests this claim for one of the detainees) the right to a habeas proceeding.

It based its argument on three factors the Supreme Court listed in deciding in Boumediene that detainees at Gitmo did have the right to habeas proceedings.

(1) the citizenship and status of the detainee and the adequacy of the process through which that status determination was made; (2) the nature of the sites where apprehension and then detention took place; and (3) the practical obstacles inherent in resolving the prisoner’s entitlement to the writ.

The Circuit found that the three detainees had actually had a less adequate status determination than the detainees in Boumediene. But it said it had to consider the two other named factors. It found that the US has nowhere near the sovereignty over Bagram that it has in Gitmo.

As the Supreme Court set forth, Guantanamo Bay is “a territory that, while technically not part of the United States, is under the complete and total control of our Government.” 128 S. Ct. at 2262. While it is true that the United States holds a leasehold interest in Bagram, and held a leasehold interest in Guantanamo, the surrounding circumstances are hardly the same. The United States has maintained its total control of Guantanamo Bay for over a century, even in the face of a hostile government maintaining de jure sovereignty over the property. In Bagram, while the United States has options as to duration of the lease agreement, there is no indication of any intent to occupy the base with permanence, nor is there hostility on the part of the “host” country. Therefore, the notion that de facto sovereignty extends to Bagram is no more real than would have been the same claim with respect to Landsberg in the Eisentrager case. While it is certainly realistic to assert that the United States has de facto sovereignty over Guantanamo, the same simply is not true with respect to Bagram.

[snip]

The Supreme Court expressly stated in Boumediene that at Guantanamo, “[w]hile obligated to abide by the terms of the lease, the United States is, for all practical purposes, answerable to no other sovereign for its acts on the base. Were that not the case, or if the detention facility were located in an active theater of war, arguments that issuing the writ would be ‘impractical or anomalous’ would have more weight.”

And the Circuit placed even more weight on the impracticality of giving detainees at Bagram habeas proceedings.

Afghanistan remains a theater of active military combat. The United States and coalition forces conduct “an ongoing military campaign against al Qaeda, the Taliban regime, and their affiliates and supporters in Afghanistan.” These operations are conducted in part from Bagram Airfield. Bagram has been subject to repeated attacks from the Taliban and al Qaeda, including a March 2009 suicide bombing striking the gates of the facility, and Taliban rocket attacks in June of 2009 resulting in death and injury to United States service members and other personnel.

[snip]

But we hold that the third factor, that is “the practical obstacles inherent in resolving the prisoner’s entitlement to the writ,” particularly when considered along with the second factor, weighs overwhelmingly in favor of the position of the United States. It is undisputed that Bagram, indeed the entire nation of Afghanistan, remains a theater of war.

And on that basis–effectively the fact that the Administration chooses to bring men into a theater of war to detain them–the Circuit overturned the District decision.

We cannot, consistent with Eisentrager as elucidated by Boumediene, hold that the right to the writ of habeas corpus and the constitutional protections of the Suspension Clause extend to Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan, and we therefore must reverse the decision of the district court denying the motion of the United States to dismiss the petitions.

Now, as the detainees argued, this basically means that the US can avoid any legal obligation to give detainees some kind of legal review by keeping detainees at Bagram or, possibly, taking them there, into a theater of war, so as to deprive them of a right to habeas. Continue reading

DOD’s Latest Black Site

Fresh off of the ICRC’s confirmation that DOD has a black site in Bagram, Marc Ambinder has a long piece on it, describing it as run by part of the DIA, the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center, and downplaying, somewhat, what its use of Appendix M might mean. For example, he describes the Appendix to cover just short bouts of sleep deprivation and some sensory deprivation.

However, under secret authorization, the DIA interrogators use methods detailed in an appendix to the Field Manual, Appendix M, which spells out “restricted” interrogation techniques.

Under certain circumstances, interrogators can deprive prisoners of sleep (four hours at a time, for up to 30 days), to confuse their senses, and to keep them separate from the rest of the prison population. The Red Cross is now notified if the captives are kept at the facility for longer than two weeks.

When interrogators are using Appendix M measures, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Gen.James Clapper (Ret.) is the man on the hook.

I think Ambinder has just not clearly stated the sleep deprivation restrictions (which require 4 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, but which would therefore allow for 40 hour periods of consecutive sleep deprivation). And the limits in Appendix M make it clear that environmental manipulation (with noise, heat, cold, or even water) is still permitted, just not excessive amounts of it.

Care should be taken to protect the detainee from exposure (in accordance with all appropriate standards addressing excessive or inadequate environmental conditions) to—

− Excessive noise.

− Excessive dampness.

− Excessive or inadequate heat, light, or ventilation.

− Inadequate bedding and blankets.

− Interrogation activity leadership will periodically monitor the application of this technique.

Use of separation must not preclude the detainee getting four hours of continuous sleep every 24 hours.

Oversight should account for moving a detainee from one environment to another (thus a different location) or arrangements to modify the environment within the same location in accordance with the approved interrogation plan.

Which would be utterly consistent with BBC’s report that detainees there were subject to cold cells, constant light, and sleep deprivation.

There are a lot of interesting details in Marc’s piece. But perhaps the most amusing is the Orwellian non-denial denial from DOD’s spokesperson, Brian Whitman:

“DoD does operate some temporary screening detention facilities which are classified to preserve operational security; however, both the [Red Cross] and the host nation have knowledge of these facilities,” said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesperson. Continue reading

The Prisoner Shellgame

On Friday, I pointed out that Eric Holder and Dennis Blair used language in a letter on Gitmo’s detainees that suggests some subset of the detainees at Gitmo is not covered by Obama’s Executive Order requiring some resolution to their status.

In recent days, a couple of you have linked to articles about two other shell games the Obama Administration appears to be playing with its detainees. First, it appears that when we cede control over Iraqi prisons to Iraqis later this year, we will retain custody of about 100 detainees from Camp Cropper (where we’ve kept Iraqi High Value Detainees), purportedly at the request of the Iraqi government.

The U.S. military said it plans a July 15 handover of Camp Cropper, which has held high-level detainees such as Saddam Hussein and members of his regime on the outskirts of Baghdad. The roughly 2,900 detainees in Camp Cropper are currently the only Iraqi detainees in American custody, down from a wartime high of 90,000, the U.S. military said.At the Iraqi government’s request, the U.S. will continue to hold about 100 detainees who pose a high security risk, Quantock said, although he was not more specific about who would be kept in custody.

Meanwhile, someone (it’s not clear who) is proposing keeping international detainees at Bagram (which would basically mean Bagram would become a colder less accessible Gitmo). (h/t Jim White–and see this excellent Adam Serwer post on the Bagram debate from last November)

That the option of detaining suspects captured outside Afghanistan at Bagram is being contemplated reflects a recognition by the Obama administration that it has few other places to hold and interrogate foreign prisoners without giving them access to the U.S. court system, the officials said.

Without a location outside the United States for sending prisoners, the administration must resort to turning the suspects over to foreign governments, bringing them to the U.S. or even killing them.

In one case last year, U.S. special operations forces killed an Al Qaeda-linked suspect named Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in a helicopter attack in southern Somalia rather than trying to capture him, a U.S. official said. Officials had debated trying to take him alive but decided against doing so in part because of uncertainty over where to hold him, the official added.

U.S. officials find such options unappealing for handling suspects they want to question but lack the evidence to prosecute. For such suspects, a facility such as Bagram, north of Kabul, remains necessary, officials said, even as they acknowledged that having it in Afghanistan could complicate McCrystal’s mission.

Mind you, some of these prisoner shell games may be related. While it would seem that the US will have to hold Iraqis within Iraq, if there really are people at Gitmo who don’t qualify for the Task Force review, I can imagine that someone would like to keep them away from a prison in Illinois where their presence may become an issue.

Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @MarkSZaidEsq @emptywheel @KanysLupin @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1 Legality, ability of cts to rule, extent of disclosure, nature of collectn
54sreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq the first is clearly false. the second may have no means to be tested. @KanysLupin @bmaz @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1
2mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq That judges get all info they ask, that overseas USP collection legal @KanysLupin @bmaz @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1
2mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq But as I've pointed out some false assumptions on your part, 2-way street. @KanysLupin @bmaz @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1
9mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @BradMossEsq @emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq @Thomas_Drake1 Again with the completely bogus+impertinent "legal/illegal" dichotomy.
10mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @BradMossEsq Actually, no. BC govt officials recently actively misled oversight body on it. @MarkSZaidEsq @Thomas_Drake1 @bmaz
24mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @BradMossEsq 1. And told Tsarnaev he couldn't have it, tho govt has said they used it w/him. @MarkSZaidEsq @Thomas_Drake1 @bmaz
26mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Sure. But now it is designed to ALSO avoid the non-hypotheticals. @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1 @bmaz
28mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @MarkSZaidEsq @emptywheel @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1 They are only "hypothetical" because of govts malicious concealment from Cong+citizens
31mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1 Evidence can be collected "legally" and still used improperly, and we know it has.
32mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1 Not to mention that "illegality" is a false+impertinent std. to Constitutional issue.
33mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Just pointing out neither FISC nor defense courts may expose any hypothetical illegality @BradMossEsq @Thomas_Drake1 @bmaz
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