Parwan

Karzai Frustrated by US Lies Relating to Parwan Prison Agreement

Afghan President Hamid Karzai lashed out yesterday, calling for the US to live up to the agreement signed last March that hands over complete control of the prison at Parwan to Afghanistan. As I pointed out while Lindsey Graham was throwing a tantrum over the prospect of this agreement (and a simultaneous one on night raids), the agreement called for a phased process, handing over control over a six month time frame. The agreement was signed a short time later and it did indeed call for a six month process. It also, at least according to the New York Times article on the agreement, allows the US to veto any decision by the Afghans on release of a prisoner. The six month process for the handover was set to end in September, but the US did not live up to its obligations under the agreement and still held a significant number of prisoners. At the same time, the US was urging Afghanistan to create, contrary to its constitution (and international law), a system for indefinite detention of prisoners without trial. Remarkably, the US also began at that time to argue that the agreement only held for prisoners in custody as of the time of signing and that the US retained control of those the US arrested after the agreement was put into place.

Now, after two months of wrangling over finalizing the handoff, Karzai has had enough. From the New York Times:

President Hamid Karzai ordered Afghan forces to take control of the American-built Bagram Prison and accused American officials of violating an agreement to fully transfer the facility to the Afghans, according to a statement from his office on Monday.

The move came after what Mr. Karzai said was the expiration of a two-month grace period, agreed to by President Obama, to complete the transfer of the prison at Bagram Air Base.

At issue in particular are 57 prisoners held there who had been acquitted by the Afghan courts but who have been held by American officials at the prison for more than a month in defiance of release orders, Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for President Karzai, said in an interview.

Similar language opens the Washington Post story on Karzai’s orders:

President Hamid Karzai has ordered his aides to institute the “full Afghanization” of the U.S.-run prison at Bagram air base, charging that American forces are continuing to detain Afghans despite a bilateral agreement in March to transfer all prisoners to Afghan authorities.

In a Pashto-language statement tweeted from the presidential palace late Sunday after Karzai met with his top security officials, the president complained that some prisoners ordered released by Afghan courts are still being held by U.S. forces.

“These acts are completely against the agreement that has been signed between Afghanistan and the U.S. president,” the statement said.

It said the Afghan defense minister, the attorney general and the national police general in charge of the Bagram prison should “take all required actions for full Afghanization of Bagram prison affairs and its complete transfer of authority to Afghans.”

I want to return now to the convergence of two details mentioned above. Continue reading

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.

Government Awards $35 Million Contract to Expand Parwan Prison

The Obama Administration insists that it wants to close Gitmo, but Congress is preventing them from doing so.

They rarely talk about the other big detainee prison–the one with significantly less transparency and due process than exists at Gitmo: Parwan prison in Bagram.

Perhaps that’s because we’ve just awarded a $35 million contract to expand that prison for the second time in Obama’s Administration, this time to add 2,000 beds.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) Middle East District has a requirement to construct detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees in Parwan, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Primary facilities include detainee housing, guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems. Primary power will be tie into the Bagram electrical distribution grid. Backup power will be provided by generators. Supporting facilities include site preparation, utilities, sidewalks, access road, lighting, and information systems. Anti-terrorism/Force Protection measures will be included. The project will be delivered using a design-build approach. All work identified in the Scope of Work shall be completed within 369 calendar days from award.

And remember: Obama’s NDAA signing statement suggested that the Administration would push the requirement under Section 1024 to give detainees meaningful reviews of their detention (the Administration suggests it will hold detainees for more than 6 months before giving such a meaningful review).

So yes, it is nice the Administration intends to close Gitmo. But I’d prefer if it stopped expanding our prison capacity in general.

US Resolves to Clean Up Its Illegal Detention at Parwan

While it is good news that the Administration is finally going to do something about the non-Afghan detainees at Bagram, the WaPo sure lets its anonymous Administration sources put the best spin on the move.

It is not, apparently, a response to our closest ally finding us in potential violation of the Geneva Convention. It is not the fact that Congress just required the Administration to give detainees the kind of due process it has been refusing (which the WaPo doesn’t even mention). Nope! It is, according to the WaPo, because the Administration has decided to enact orderly transfers now.

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.

That said, the WaPo includes a rather amusing summary of anonymous officials insisting that our hand is not being forced by things like Yunus Rahmatullah’s successful habeas petition in the UK.

Administration officials said they are willing to transfer Rahmatullah, but do not want the basis of such a move to be a foreign court ruling.

And it includes a number of pieces of evidence to suggest these detainees weren’t a threat in the first place.

A small number of detainees [out of 50] may be deemed to pose a terrorist threat, requiring their continued detention or close supervision by their home country if released from the Afghan prison, officials said. Additionally, a number of them are Yemeni, complicating their possible repatriation.

[snip]

The foreign detainees include two Yemenis and one Tunisian who attempted to secure their release by filing for writs of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court in Washington in 2009. All three claimed they were captured outside Afghanistan, held at secret CIA prisons overseas, before being transferred to the detention center in Bagram.

Judge John D. Bates ruled that these non-Afghan prisoners had the right to pursue habeas cases; however, the federal court of appeals overturned that decision in 2010.

A U.S. official said the three men were among those who could be repatriated.

So before we start the process of giving detainees actual, meaningful review of their detention, we’re going to first repatriate a bunch who we’ve known not to pose a threat.

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.

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?

Senate Armed Service Committee Celebrates Agreement to Spend 32 Times More on Detainees

As Josh Gerstein and Adam Serwer lay out, the Senate Armed Services Committee just passed a new version of the Defense Authorization mandating military detention for terrorists. The language on detention includes the following two paragraphs:

Except as provided in paragraph (4) [which is a national security exception], the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) [an Al Qaeda related terrorist] who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization of the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition of the war.

[snip]

No amounts authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2012 may be used to construct or modify any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any individual detained at Guantanamo for the purposes of detention or imprisonment in the custody or under the control of the Department of Defense unless authorized by Congress.

In other words, unless the government has a really good reason, they have to put accused terrorists caught during the AUMF-authorized war in military custody. And DOD can’t build a prison in the US specifically to house those detainees.

That makes it much more likely we’re going to put terrorist detainees at Gitmo, where as Carol Rosenberg recently reported, we spend 32 times as much holding prisoners as we spend in civilian prisons in the United States.

The Pentagon detention center that started out in January 2002 as a collection of crude open-air cells guarded by Marines in a muddy tent city is today arguably the most expensive prison on earth, costing taxpayers $800,000 annually for each of the 171 captives by Obama administration reckoning.

That’s more than 30 times the cost of keeping a captive on U.S. soil.

It’s still funded as an open-ended battlefield necessity, although the last prisoner arrived in March 2008. But it functions more like a gated community in an American suburb than a forward-operating base in one of Afghanistan’s violent provinces.

[snip]

It’s a slow-motion Berlin Airlift — that’s been going on for 10 years,” says retired Army Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti, a West Point graduate who in 2008 was deputy commander at the detention center.

Alternately, we could put them in Bagram, the population of which has been ballooning under Obama’s Administration.

Today, there are more than 3,000 detainees at Bagram, or five times the number (around 600) when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. There are currently 18 times as many detainees at Bagram than at the U.S. military prison at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, whose prisoner population has dwindled from a peak of 780 to 170.

[snip]

DOD is now reviewing bids from contractors to expand the facility to house up to 5,500 detainees. The project is expected to cost another $25 to $100 million when it is completed by the end of 2012.

It’s unclear what Bagram costs, per detainee.

But we do know it costs almost $1.2 million a year to keep a single troop in Afghanistan, for some of the same reasons it costs so much to keep Gitmo running, supply costs. The average federal prison guard in the US is paid about $55,000 (so figure $71,500 with benefits). Just the cost of the prison guard alone makes Bagram 16 times more expensive than a federal prison in the US, and that’s before you count the $60 million we’ve already spent on expanding the prison at Bagram and the $25 to $100 million we’re already planning on spending. And all those costs are based on a logistics chain through Pakistan, which is getting more and more questionable these day.

Meanwhile, the scary Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab spent 21 months of pre-trial detention in a low security prison in MI. Not only did no one get hurt with him in low security custody in the US, but no one nationally even noticed!

This is ridiculous. The Republican insistence that we use military law when civilian law is better and cheaper is going to bankrupt this country. And it’s not going to keep us any safer.

The Cost of $100 Million Prison Expansions and Other “Civilian-Led” Blowback

In addition to green-lighting debt collection calls to cell phones, another of the deficit plans Obama rolled out today is basically claiming credit for military withdrawals.

The plan also realizes more than $1 trillion in savings over the next 10 years from our drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As DDay notes, these “cuts” are scheduled to happen anyway. It’s just funny accounting, particularly since the foreverwar hawks will fight some of these changes in any case.

But there’s another reason I think this is funny accounting. We’re not withdrawing, we’re switching to “civilian-led” efforts in these places. And Obama is not measuring the costs of these civilian-led efforts.

Such as the $100 million expansion we’re making to habeas-free Parwan prison in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) Middle East District intends to solicit names of construction firms or joint ventures experienced in working in the Middle East region who are interested in submitting a firm-fixed price offer for this project. To be considered a construction firm, the firm must perform construction as a significant portion of its business. This announcement is for the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan. The contractor shall comply with all base security requirements. Defense Base Act Insurance and Construction surety will be required. The estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000.

PROJECT SCOPE: The scope of the Project includes construct detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees. [my emphasis]

Glenn Greenwald hits much of what needs to be said about this expansion:

Budgetary madness to the side, this is going to be yet another addition to what Human Rights First recently documented is the oppressive, due-process-free prison regime the U.S. continues to maintain around the world:

Ten years after the September 11 attacks, few Americans realize that the United States is still imprisoning more than 2800 men outside the United States without charge or trial. Sprawling U.S. military prisons have become part of the post-9/11 landscape, and the concept of “indefinite detention” – previously foreign to our system of government — has meant that such prisons, and their captives, could remain a legacy of the 9/11 attacks and the “war on terror” for the indefinite future. . . . .

The secrecy surrounding the U.S. prison in Afghanistan makes it impossible for the public to judge whether those imprisoned there deserve to be there. What’s more, because much of the military’s evidence against them is classified, the detainees themselves have no right to see it. So although detainees at Bagram are now entitled to hearings at the prison every six months, they’re often not allowed to confront the evidence against them. As a result, they have no real opportunity to contest it.

In one of the first moves signalling just how closely the Obama administration intended to track its predecessor in these areas, it won the right to hold Bagram prisoners without any habeas corpus rights, successfully arguing that the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision — which candidate Obama cheered because it guaranteed habeas rights to Guantanamo detainees — was inapplicable to Bagram.  Numerous groups doing field work in Afghanistan have documented that the maintenance of these prisons is a leading recruitment tool for the Taliban and a prime source of anti-American hatred.  Despite that fact — or, more accurately (as usual), because of it — the U.S. is now going to build a brand new, enormous prison there.

And then there’s the expansion we’re doing to the “Embassy” in Baghdad. Dan Froomkin lays this out.

U.S. diplomats, military advisers and other officials are planning to fall back to the gargantuan embassy in Baghdad — a heavily fortified, self-contained compound the size of Vatican City.

The embassy compound is by far the largest the world has ever seen, at one and a half square miles, big enough for 94 football fields. It cost three quarters of a billion dollars to build (coming in about $150 million over budget). Inside its high walls, guard towers and machine-gun emplacements lie not just the embassy itself, but more than 20 other buildings, including residential quarters, a gym and swimming pool, commercial facilities, a power station and a water-treatment plant.

[snip]

The number of personnel under the authority of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq will swell from 8,000 to about 16,000 as the troop presence is drawn down, a State Department official told The Huffington Post. “About 10 percent would be core programmatic staff, 10 percent management and aviation, 30 percent life support contractors — and 50 percent security,” he said.

[snip]

As the Department of Defense pulls out and its spending drops, the State Department is expecting its costs to skyrocket. State asked Congress for $2.7 billion for its Iraqi operations in fiscal year 2011, and got $2.1 billion. It wants $6.2 billion for next year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee estimates that State’s plans will cost $25 to $30 billion over the next five years.

I use scarequotes for the word “Embassy” because I think it’s time we set aside the fiction that this is a State Department operation. Froomkin notes, for example, that the $6 billion a year State will be spending on this “Embassy” adds to the only $14 billion State spends, in total, right now.

It’s not just the actual spending I’m objecting to–the $100 million here, the $30 billion there–though Glenn’s point, that we refuse to spend a fraction of $100 million to fix CA’s prison overcrowding, is an important one.

It’s that in one of our colonies we’re doubling the size of our replacement Gitmo, right there in plain view of the people it will antagonize (though the expansion does raise questions about whether we’ll fill the prison with detainees from other countries, too).

And in another of our colonies we’re expanding our giant concrete intelligence bunker (I am open to suggestions for better names for this monstrosity), replete with numbers equal to the numbers of troops Nuri al-Maliki can’t publicly approve. Will the fact that intelligence and contractor personnel are watching over our colony be any less incendiary to the Moqtada al-Sadrs of Iraq than men and women we explicitly called troops? Isn’t this stupid fiction–with the legal fiction it exploits–be in a number of ways worse?

Call it a crazy suspicion. But our non-withdrawal withdrawals from our colonies seems ripe for blowback in a very very big (and expensive) way.

Of course that’s precisely the kind of cost even the deficit hawks refuse to count, so we’ll never see it accounted for in any budget.

US Delays Handover of Afghan Prison So We Can Not Try Detainees Rather than Afghans

The WaPo reports the thoroughly unsurprising news that the US is not turning over Parwan prison this year as we begin to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The news is unsurprising because of all the money we’ve dumped into the prison in recent years–as soon as we put that contract out to bid, it was clear we weren’t turning the prison over. (Indeed, it’s fairly clear we’ll expand our detention in Afghanistan.)

But the excuse the WaPo uncritically gives is nothing short of hysterical.

First, the US says the Afghan judiciary system is not yet mature enough to manage the prison.

U.S. officials decided that the Afghan legal system is still too weak to permit the handover of the Parwan Detention Center, even after the United States spent millions attempting to improve the country’s judiciary.

 

That, in spite of the fact that Afghans have managed to hold trials at the prison; whereas the Americans still maintain the legal claim they are unable to (the WaPo somehow forgets this detail).

Then there’s the claim that Afghan judges can’t handle classified information.

The inability of Afghan judges to handle classified intelligence is one of many problems dela

But the example of Pacha Wazir provides a sense of who can and cannot handle classified information.

Afghan prosecutors determinedon June 26, 2008 that coalition forces had no evidence of collaboration with al Qaeda, so Wazir should be freed.

In the documents from coalition forces, it has been mentioned that evidence, physical supporting material and pictures do not exist to prove the accusations, he has not been arrested in a face to face battle, has not performed any terrorism related actions, polygraph tests show that there are no evidence of deception.

Based on the requirements of his job and business he has performed currency exchange activities in all parts and corners of the world legally to earn his livelihood.

Therefore, the commission believe that there are no documents in his file that would support the allegations against this person and he has already spent more than five years in prison. Thus, it is considered appropriate if the suspect is released from prison, introduced to National Independent Commission on Peace and Reconciliation and a report be delivered to the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, several weeks after the Afghan determination that coalition forces had no evidence against Wazir, a DOD UECRB determined that he was an unlawful enemy combatant.

Petitioner Wazir is a detainee at BTIF. See id. ¶ 19. Continue reading

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October 2014
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