Yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to the Department of Defense asking them to reconsider releasing information — such as “a list of names, citizenship, length of detention, [and] capture location” — about detainees held at the detention facility at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. The ACLU explains its decision to request the information on its “Blog of Rights“:
Today, we sent a letter to the Department of Defense (DOD), asking them to reconsider their refusal to turn over information about the detention facility at Bagram in Afghanistan. The request is connected to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we filed earlier this year with the Departments of Defense, Justice and State and the CIA for documents related to the detention and treatment of prisoners at Bagram. […]
There is concern that Bagram has become, in effect, another Guantánamo – except with many more prisoners, less due process, no access to lawyers or courts and reportedly worse conditions. Although the nation is embroiled in an intense public debate about U.S. policy pertaining to the detention and treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody, Americans remain in the dark about even the most basic facts about Bagram. And, as long as the Bagram prison is shrouded in secrecy, there is no way to know the truth or begin to address the problems that exist there.
There is no doubt that the Obama Administration has done much to reverse the Bush Administration’s disastrous record on civil liberties. Immediately after coming into office, Obama issued executive orders mandating the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and banning torture.
Yet civil liberties advocates continue to warn that the same “legal black hole” that existed thanks to the Bush Administration’s policies in Guantanamo Bay has continued to exist in the Bagram detention center. As Tina Foster of the International Justice Center told NPR recently, the policies in Bagram seem to imply that “individuals captured by the United States anywhere in the world can be taken into custody and held indefinitely without charge, so long as they’re not brought to Guantanamo.”