MANHATTAN (CN) – The prison at Bagram air force base in Afghanistan will get new operating rules next week, but the ACLU says the United States is trying to keep the procedures that governed the prison since it opened in 2002 “shrouded in secrecy.”
Four government agencies have refused to release information about Bagram detainees who may be living in conditions worse than those at Guantanamo, the ACLU says in a federal FOIA complaint.
Some prisoners have been in custody for 6 years without charge, the ACLU says, and none have access to lawyers, courts or due process – nor the hope of those things.
The Obama administration has said the new regulations will institute a thorough administrative process to determine whether Bagram prisoners should be detained “indefinitely,” but the ACLU wants to know the conditions under which they are being held.
Army investigators have said a number of Bagram prisoners have died in custody, including at least two by homicide.
The Defense Department, CIA, State Department and Justice Department have blown off the ACLU’s requests for information, which were delivered 5 months ago, the legal group says.
The ACLU wants data on prisoners’ names, citizenship, length of detention, place of capture, and “the rendition or transfer of individuals captured outside Afghanistan to Bagram.” It also wants to know “the process for determining and reviewing Bagram prisoners’ status … agreements between the Afghan and United States governments regarding operations at Bagram … and the treatment of and conditions of confinement for Bagram prisoners.”
The ACLU estimates that 600 people are imprisoned at Bagram – three times as many as at Guantanamo.
The ACLU is represented by house counsel Melissa Goodman.