Secret US prisons in Afghanistan revealed
8 Apr, 2011 15:29
US officials have acknowledged the existence of secret military-run prisons across Afghanistan where suspected terrorists are held and interrogated without charges, for weeks or months on end.
The US military previously denied operating secret prison systems in Afghanistan, although a number of human rights groups insisted they were. Recently however US government and military officials confirmed to AP the existence of the secret prisons, but contended they existed as temporary holding centers used to gather intelligence. They said detainees were held at such sites for 14 days, unless it is deemed necessary they stay longer. According to AP some detainees have been held for nine weeks.The program remains classified, and details from the government have been released anonymously. There are roughly 20 secret detention sites all run by the US military, with one being run the America’s elite counterterrorism unit at the Joint Special Operations Command at Bagram Air Base where high-value targets from within the Taliban, al-Qaida or other militant groups are held and interrogated. The secret site sits just a short drive the publicly known detention center at Bagram which was previously marred in controversy. The previously administration, under former US President George W. Bush ran a network of secret CIA detention sites, a program US President Barack Obama was highly critical off. The discovery of a new network under Obama will likely anger many.Little is known about the methods which are being employed in interrogations today, but if they resemble Bush-era tactics, torture is likely being used. Under Bush the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding was often used to force detainees to reveal information about their operations. Human rights groups have said previously that those tactics are gone, they also previously insisted the secret network of prisons was gone as well. When Obama took office he swore to end harsh interrogations and torture, but detaining from the system tell a different story. They describe treatment that a number of human rights groups would call inhumane.Over a dozen former detainees claimed they were held for weeks at the Joint Special Operations Command site, forced to strip naked and kept in the cold in solitary confinement with lights on 24 hours a day, Daphne Eviatar of Human Rights First, told AP. In many cases detainees claimed they were told they would be held indefinitely if they did not cooperate. The US military insisted the allegations were untrue."All detainees are treated humanely in compliance with all U.S. and international laws, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions," Special Operations Command spokesman Col. Tim Nye told AP.While the group does not feel the harsh tactics of the Bush administration are being employed, there is an uncomfortable pattern developing.