Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The BBC has talked to 27 former inmates at the notorious U.S. military prison at Bagram, Afghanistan, and reports that most say that American soldiers inflicted periods of sleeplessness, forced standing, loud music and other wise inhumane and cruel treatment.

Ian Pannell reports for the BBC on this story:

"Many allegations of ill-treatment appear repeatedly in the interviews: physical abuse, the use of stress positions, excessive heat or cold, unbearably loud noise, being forced to remove clothes in front of female soldiers.

"In four cases detainees were threatened with death at gunpoint.

""They did things that you would not do against animals let alone to humans," said one inmate known as Dr Khandan.

""They poured cold water on you in winter and hot water in summer. They used dogs against us. They put a pistol or a gun to your head and threatened you with death," he said.

""They put some kind of medicine in the juice or water to make you sleepless and then they would interrogate you.""

So who is responsible for the operation of this prison and who made up these harsh interrogation methods and installed them as standard operating procedure? We know the answer to the two latter questions: it was George Bush and Dick Cheney who devised and then implemented these methods of torture, not some sergeant or specialist in the U.S. Army. But as to who is responsible - now it is Barack Obama and his Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It is anyone's guess as to whether this awful treatment of Afghanis still continues. But if it does continue, it is up to Obama and Gates to shut it down without delay.

Furthermore, Obama has adopted the Bush line that prisoners in Afghanistan are not deserving of the protections of the U.S. constitution. This means that Obama is trying to deny to these prisoners basic human rights, such as receiving a fair trial, and asking for habeas relief from an independent court, such as that found in the Fourth Amendment that allows a court to consider whether a person is being held unjustly.

Obama's position against granting basic protections to these prisoners at Bagram is beyond comprehension. Americans voted for Obama as president because they believed that he would end the injustice and violations of human rights. Has he now dismissed the views of all those who voted for him?

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