Saturday, March 7, 2009

Forget Gitmo Focus on Bagram

Bush's living legacy at Bagram prison
By Karen J Greenberg

Just when you think you've woken up from a bad dream …

When it comes to offshore injustice and secret prisons, especially our notorious but little known prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, let's hope the Barack Obama years mean never having to complete that sentence.

In the George W Bush era, those of us who followed his administration's torture, detention and interrogation policies often felt like we were unwilling participants in a perverse game of hide-and-seek. Whenever one of us stumbled upon a startling new document, a horrific new practice, a dismal new prison environment or yet another individual implicated in torture policy, the feeling of revelation would soon be superseded by a sneaking suspicion that we were once again looking in the wrong direction, that the Bush administration was playing a Machiavellian game of distraction with us.

Okay, call it paranoia - a state of mind well suited to the Age of Cheney - but when Abu Ghraib finally came to light, it turned out that our real focus should have been on the administration's program of "extraordinary rendition" and the CIA secret flights to the foreign countries that were serving as proxy torturers for the United States. And when one case of torture by proxy, that of Maher Arar, achieved some prominence, we began looking at proxy torturers for the United States, when we should have been looking at legalized policies of torture by the US.

Several years ago, British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith placed that jewel in the Bush administration's offshore crown of injustice, Guantanamo, in the category of distraction as well - distraction, that is, from the far grimmer and more important American detention facility at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

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Read the rest at Asia Times Online
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