Torture in Bagram, Afghanistan

This video is called Bagram Detainees Treated ‘Worse Than Animals’.

From the BBC:

Former detainee: ‘They put medicine in our drink to prevent us sleeping’

By Ian Pannell
BBC News, Kabul

Allegations of abuse and neglect at a US detention facility in Afghanistan have been uncovered by the BBC.

Former detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at the Bagram military base.

The BBC interviewed 27 former inmates of Bagram around the country over a period of two months.

The Pentagon has denied the charges and insisted that all inmates in the facility are treated humanely.

All the men were asked the same questions and they were all interviewed in isolation.


They were held at times between 2002 and 2008 and they were all accused of belonging to or helping al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

None were charged with any offence or put on trial; some even received apologies when they were released.

Just two of the detainees said they had been treated well.

“They put a pistol or a gun to your head and threatened you with death.”
Former Bagram detainee

Many allegations of ill-treatment appear repeatedly in the interviews: physical abuse, the use of stress positions, excessive heat or cold, unbearably loud noise, being forced to remove clothes in front of female soldiers.

In four cases detainees were threatened with death at gunpoint.

“They did things that you would not do against animals let alone to humans,” said one inmate known as Dr Khandan.

“They poured cold water on you in winter and hot water in summer. They used dogs against us. They put a pistol or a gun to your head and threatened you with death,” he said.

“They put some kind of medicine in the juice or water to make you sleepless and then they would interrogate you.”

The findings were shown to the Pentagon. …

Bagram has held thousands of people over the last eight years and a new detention centre is currently under construction at the camp.

Some of the inmates are forcibly taken there from abroad, especially Pakistanis and at least two Britons. …

These revelations come at a time when Mr Obama is trying to re-set Washington’s relationship with the Muslim world and trying harder than ever to win the war in Afghanistan.

It is a controversy that threatens to damage the image of the new administration in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

See also here. And here. And here.

The release of a five-year-old inspector general’s report on the CIA’s torture program has been delayed again after the Department of Justice asked for more time to sort out how much to censor: here.

A US military review has called for an overhaul of the US-run Bagram prison in Afghanistan amid concerns that abuses are helping to strengthen the Taliban, the New York Times has reported, here.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed to the British Broadcasting Corporation that the US military is operating a second “black jail” at its Bagram airbase near Kabul in Afghanistan, contrary to the Pentagon’s public denials: here. And here. And here.

US lawyers representing prisoners at the Bagram base in Afghanistan denounced a new Pentagon programme to modify the treatment of detainees as “just smoke and mirrors”: here.

Who Runs The Secret ‘Black Jail’ at Bagram? Here.

Afghan jails are base for al-Qaida and Taliban, says US commander. General Stanley McChrystal‘s report says overcrowded jails are a hotbed of Islamic radicalisation: here.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Washington this week, culminating in a meeting and joint press appearance with Barack Obama at the White House, was an exercise in public relations and image building, which required denying or covering the mounting tensions between Washington and its puppet in Kabul: here.

The commander of the US forces in the Middle East has signed an order that allows clandestine military activity to disrupt “terror” groups or counter threats in friendly and hostile nations, The New York Times says: here.

NEW YORK, May 26, 2010 (IPS) – Human rights advocates are expressing shock at a federal court ruling that detainees held by the United States in Afghanistan do not have the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. federal court – and dismay that their path to a successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court may be blocked: here.

Trial marks shift, but not total change. American controlled prison holds first trial for detainee in Afghanistan: here.

33 thoughts on “Torture in Bagram, Afghanistan

  1. Bob Herbert: Obama continues Bush-era policies full of secrecy and excuses

    Posted: 06/23/2009 06:07:05 PM PDT

    ONE of the most disappointing aspects of the early months of the Obama administration has been its unwillingness to end many of the mind-numbing abuses linked to the so-called war on terror and to establish a legal and moral framework designed to prevent those abuses from ever occurring again.

    The president deserves credit for unequivocally banning torture and some of the other brutal interrogation techniques that spread like a plague in the Bush administration’s lawless response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But other policies that offend the conscience continue.

    Americans should recoil as one against the idea of preventive detention, imprisoning people indefinitely, for years and perhaps for life, without charge and without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their innocence.

    And yet we’ve embraced it, asserting that there are people who are far too dangerous to even think about releasing but who cannot be put on trial because we have no real evidence that they have committed any crime, or because we’ve tortured them and therefore the evidence would not be admissible, or whatever. President Obama is OK with this (he calls it “prolonged detention”), but he wants to make sure it is carried out – here comes the oxymoron – fairly and nonabusively.

    Proof of guilt? In 21st-century America, there is no longer any need for such annoyances. Human rights? Ha-ha. That’s a good one.

    Also distressing is the curtain of secrecy the Obama administration has kept drawn over shameful abuses that should be brought into the light of day. Back in April, the administration rightly released the “torture memos” detailing the gruesome interrogation techniques unleashed by the Bush crowd. But last month, Obama apparently tripped over his own instincts and reversed his initial decision to release photos of American soldiers engaged in the brutal abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    We saw the profound effect of the disclosure of the photos from Abu Ghraib in 2004. Imagine if they had never been released. Now, in an affront to a society that is supposed to be intelligent and free, the Obama administration is trying to sit on photos that are just as important for Americans to see. The president’s argument for trying to block the court-ordered release of the photos is a demoralizing echo of the embarrassingly empty rhetoric of the Bush years:

    “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in danger.”

    The Obama administration is also continuing the Bush administration’s abuse of the state-secrets privilege. Lawyers from the Obama Justice Department have argued, as did lawyers from the Bush administration before them, that a lawsuit involving extraordinary rendition and allegations of extreme torture should be dismissed outright because discussions of such matters in court would harm national security.

    In other words, the victims, no matter how strong their case might be, no matter how badly they might have been abused, could never have their day in court. Jane Mayer, writing in the June 22 edition of The New Yorker, said of the rendition program, in which suspects were swept up by Americans and spirited off to foreign countries for imprisonment and interrogation: “As many as seven detainees were misidentified and abducted by mistake.”

    The Bush and Obama view of the state-secrets privilege effectively bars any real examination of such egregious mistakes.

    It was thought by many that a President Obama would put a stop to the madness, put an end to the Bush administration’s nightmarish approach to national security. But Obama has shown no inclination to bring even the worst offenders of the Bush years to account, and seems perfectly willing to move ahead in lockstep with the excessive secrecy and some of the most egregious activities of the Bush era.

    The new president’s excessively cautious approach to the national security and civil liberties outrages of the Bush administration are unacceptable, and the organizations and individuals committed to fairness, justice and the rule of law – the Center for Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many others – should intensify their efforts to get the new administration to do the right thing.

    More than 500 of the detainees incarcerated at one time or another at Guantanamo Bay have been released, and, except for a handful, no charges were filed against them. The idea that everyone held at Guantanamo was a terrorist – the worst of the worst – was always absurd.

    Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, noted that Obama had promised to bring both transparency and accountability to matters of national security. It’s the only way to get our moral compass back.

    Bob Herbert is a syndicated columnist with The New York Times.


  2. U.S. detainees hold protest at Bagram jail

    By Heidi Vogt – The Associated Press
    Posted : Thursday Jul 16, 2009 7:34:01 EDT

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Hundreds of prisoners at the U.S. military’s main detention center in Afghanistan are refusing privileges such as recreation time and family visits to protest their lack of legal rights, U.S. military and humanitarian officials said.

    The U.S. military holds about 600 prisoners at a detention center at Bagram Airfield outside Kabul as “unlawful enemy combatants,” a status that the U.S. says does not give them the right to legal representation.

    Human rights advocates have argued that these prisoners should be given the same rights as those at the detention facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S. military argues that Bagram detainees should be treated differently because they are being held in an active theater of war.

    Their status is the subject of lawsuits in the U.S. A federal judge ruled in April that the Bagram detainees have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts, and the Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to overturn the decision.

    The Bagram detainees’ ongoing protest, which began July 1, is over this lack of access to lawyers or independent reviews, said a military official who spoke on the condition on anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the issue to the media.

    The prisoners have declined outside recreation time, family visits and video phone calls arranged by the International Committee of the Red Cross, he said, adding that the majority of detainees are taking part.

    Red Cross officials confirmed that they had been asked to halt family visits and calls.

    “The detainees told us that they don’t want to participate in the family visit program, and we have suspended it until they’re ready to resume,” said Red Cross spokeswoman Jessica Barry said.

    The Red Cross last visited the detention center on July 5, and further visits have been temporarily suspended, though one would not normally happen for another six weeks, Barry said. She said she could not comment on the protest, saying only “we are aware that there are tensions in the prison at the moment.”

    The prisoners have not refused food or water, the military official said.

    Bagram detainees are told about the reason for their arrest and are allowed to defend themselves at six-month military review sessions, but without outside legal counsel, according to military statements.

    Afghan human rights officials said they could not comment on the protest because they have no access to the prison and no information on it.

    “The constitution has given us the authority to monitor the condition of prisoners throughout the Afghanistan, and especially the coalition detention centers, but they have refused to let us in,” said Mohammad Farid Hamidi, a human rights commissioner.


  3. Civilian casualties rising in Afghanistan

    Reuters | 3 Hours Ago

    The number of civilians killed by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has risen this year, despite efforts to limit fallout from the widening war against the Taliban, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

    Citing NATO statistics, the Pentagon said U.S. and NATO forces killed 90 civilians from January to April — a 76 percent rise from the 51 deaths in the same period of 2009.

    The increase demonstrates the difficulty of shielding Afghans from violence as the United States pours thousands more troops into Afghanistan to challenge the Taliban, often in strongholds where insurgents hide among the population.

    The U.S. military has made reducing civilian casualties an explicit goal of its revised Afghan strategy, given that popular support for NATO and Afghan forces is ultimately needed to isolate the Taliban and win the war.

    President Barack Obama restated the goal on Wednesday, saying the United States was doing everything possible to avoid killing “somebody who’s not on the battlefield.”

    “Our troops put themselves at risk, oftentimes, in order to reduce civilian casualties,” Obama told a joint news conference in Washington with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    “Oftentimes they’re holding fire, they’re hesitating, they’re being cautious about how they operate, even though it would be safer for them to go ahead and just take these locations out.”

    Many of the deaths appeared to be related to several high-profile incidents, top among them an air strike in February that a NATO official said killed 23 civilians.

    The NATO official, commenting on the numbers, stressed the increase in killings must be seen in the context of a larger U.S. fighting force that is directly engaging the Taliban in former strongholds.


  4. I am a former guard at this facility and it just amazes me to read all these liberal blogs and media shows that only vocus on what some prison claims. Not one word is printed from one single soldier in the field. Pathetic, but I guess it sell products. Doesn’t it “dearkitty”?


  5. Re #4: on the Internet, I have no way of making sure that “Bryan Smith” is your real name, and that your claim of having been a guard at Bagram torture prison is true.

    Maybe you are some bored high school boy. That you spell “vocus” instead of “focus” and write “prison” instead of “prisoner” would mean that barely literates would be employed by the US government. That is not so probable, unless standards have declined.

    Of course Hitler’s concentration camp guards also used to claim that those horror stories about their camps were all lies by the Soviet Communist and Western ally enemies.

    Oh yeah, there are no ads at this blog, so it does not sell any products.


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