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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/10/10

News you can't use (Bagram Prison)

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I hate it when I get incomplete information. Of course, that happens all the time, but a piece of news today rang alarm bells. Namely, Afghans agree to take over U.S. prison at Bagram (1/10/2010). According to the piece from Reuters, and as noted elsewhere over the years, the Bagram prison (housed in a converted aircraft hanger) has been the "more evil twin" of Guantanamo.

The United States has just finished construction of a $60 million facility at Bagram. Interestingly, the new facility is sometimes referred to as an extension of the existing facility (modified aircraft hanger).

Bagram is a former Soviet air base which is now used by the United States and NATO as a primary airfield and shipping point (Al Jazeera 11/16/2009):

The air field part of the complex is already handling 400 tonnes of cargo and 1,000 passengers daily, according to Air Force spokesman Captain David Faggard.

It is continuing to grow to keep up with the requirements of an escalating war and troop increases.

Plans are under way to build a new, $22m passenger terminal and a cargo yard costing $9m. To increase cargo capacity, a parking ramp supporting the world's largest aircraft is to be completed in early 2010.

So here is (apparently) the situation. The U.S. spends $60 million to build a prison (extension) in the middle of a what is (currently) a U.S. airbase (with apparent plans to make it a commercial flight center). The prisoners in the modified hanger (including at least 30 non-Afghan detainees) have, or will, be moved to the new facility. This facility will be transferred to Afghan control. Yes an Afghan prison (supposedly) in the middle of a U.S. airbase.

Now, who might get the contract to train Afghan police? Xe/Blackwater of course. I realize that prison guards are not police, but there is no mention of who will be training the guards for the prison after transfer. One assumes that it will be a contractor since the U.S. seems to be outsourcing much of military, intelligence, and transition efforts.

There are more questions than answers. Is the U.S. building what will eventually become a commercial international airport at Bagram? If so, is it a good idea to have a major prison in the middle of such an endeavor? Or will the United States maintain Bagram as long term military base with an Afghan-run prison in the middle of it? Is there an agreement between the Afghans and the United States that the facility continue to house what the U.S. considers "high value detainees"?

News reports really shouldn't leave one with so many questions.

Other Information
Bagram Airbase Fact Sheet

How Camp Cunningham got its name. Camp Cunningham is where many of the troops for the Bagram airbase are housed.

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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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