ACLU Files Bagram FOIA Request

Today, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking records about the detention and treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody at the Bagram Airfield prison in Afghanistan. The ACLU is requesting release of basic information such as how many people are imprisoned at Bagram, who they are, how long they've been detained, and where and under what circumstances they were captured. The ACLU is also requesting records about the process for prisoners to challenge their detention and designation as "enemy combatants." The request was sent to the Departments of Justice, State, Defense and the CIA.

Many fear that Bagram is (or may soon be) the "next Guantánamo," yet the public knows practically nothing about what's happening there. It's reported that the U.S. is detaining as many as 600 prisoners at Bagram; this includes not only Afghans captured in Afghanistan but also non-Afghans captured thousands of miles away and rendered (or sent) to Bagram. At least two Bagram prisoners have died while in U.S. custody there, deaths Army investigators concluded were homicides.

Some Bagram prisoners have been held as long as six years without charge or access to counsel. A federal judge recently found (PDF) that the meager opportunity Bagram prisoners get to challenge their detention is even more inadequate than the process Guantánamo prisoners received — a process the Supreme Court found unconstitutional last year.

In late February, the Obama administration stunned many human rights advocates when the Justice Department asserted in court that detainees at Bagram have no right to challenge their detention, a holdover policy from the Bush administration. Earlier this month, a federal judge disagreed, ruling that three prisoners being held by the U.S. at Bagram can challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The Justice department is appealing that decision.

Melissa Goodman, the ACLU National Security Project Staff Attorney who filed the request, said in a statement today:

The U.S. government's detention of hundreds of prisoners at Bagram has been shrouded in complete secrecy. Bagram houses far more prisoners than Guantánamo, in reportedly worse conditions and with an even less meaningful process for challenging their detention, yet very little information about the Bagram facility or the prisoners held there has been made public. Without transparency, we can't be sure that we're doing the right thing — or even holding the right people — at Bagram.

As President Obama deliberates about how to close Guantánamo, scrutiny of U.S. detention policies will only intensify. And what the U.S. government is doing (or planning to do) at Bagram is a big piece of that puzzle. We cannot close Guantánamo only to permit 'other Gitmos' to exist in other places.

Add a comment (8)
Read the Terms of Use

Vic Livingston

RE: Obama "100 days" press conference


Mr. President:

The Senate Armed Services Committee report on "enhanced interrogation techniques" used at Guantanamo stated at least twice that detainees were subject to "induced physical weakness and exhaustion."

The report also stated that detainees were subject to "physiological and psychological pressures" and "environmental manipulation."

Has your administration inquired as to what "induced" these effects...

...and whether detainees were exposed to microwave radiation devices such as so-called "directed energy weapon" discharges... or any other type of radiation, including X-rays, gamma rays, sonic waves, or laser "dazzlers"?

If detainees were exposed to radiation, does that not constitute "torture" and "cruel and unusual punishment" in and of itself?

OR (if links are corrupted):


Hostilities exist. Are you suggesting that prisoners of war be accorded full civil rights of US citizens? I figure following the Army Field manuals would be enough.


This country in trouble because of you...not in spite of you. You are all haters and malcontents. You are so full of yourselves you can't see the harm you are doing to what was once a wonderful country. Seems as though it is time for all of you to step forward and identify yourselves so we can all see who the traitors are among us. You know...that spirit of openness and accountability you all seek. C'mon now. Step up you bunch of weasels!


we need to wake up sept 11 and images of heads being cut off what will we do when they have control of nukes


Since when do enemy combatants and terrorists on foreign soil have the same no more rights than American citizens have here in the U.S.

Hawaiian style

Folks, prisoners are supposed to be held upon probable cause. That is there is a reasonable suspicion that they have committed a crime. After being detained that should be established, and upon verifying there is a reasonable cause to hold we should try the person.

If you maintain that war criminals are held until the end of hostilities, what do you suggest when the war is without end? If you say hold em, you better expect a big tax increase to pay for all the clothes, food, shelter, medicine and other care.

If you agree that we should try them upon determination of probable cause, who do you suggest has jurisdiction?
And, what is the length of time you can hold a man before it just becomes detention without proof?

I submit for places like Bagram we need an international court, and a time of 6 months max before bringing a person to trial.

I respect your views that these men are not model citizens, and should not be treated as such, but you need to think through the real life consequences/management of indefinite detention.

Further if you say hold them without trial how do you get around the fact that all the man's friends and relatives will resent the US and join the opposition? We know this is a fact of life.

Terrorism is a philosophical belief and a way of life. If we truly are in an unending war then we need to rethink how to win. Part of the solution is to prevent the spread of the mind set that makes people become terrorists. We can't do this by using the old hold em till the war's over stuff.

Either get real and think through your anger and fear or we will lose the war.

Fighting terrorism is a full spectrum effort that includes food, medicine, humanitarian aid as well as guns. The sooner we realize that the first answer to terror is not military the sooner we will win this war.


The United States of America was founded upon the rule of law and thousands of people gave up their lives to defend those rights established under
the Constitution.These rights include the right to a fair trial and no cruel and unusual punishment.
The Right Wingers however would use the Bill of Rights as Ass Whipe while wrapping themselves up with the flag.

Cc are an

And to call *Right Wingers* just affirms that you are on the far left.

And if you think these heathens would afford you anything close to the constitutional rights you Spew about in your left wing fashion.....then take your self-patting on the back ass over to that AO and see how much of it they afford you.

There's another old saying...."when in Rome as the Romans Do".

Unfortunately ...we are the only country that affords people their right to as many freedoms as we have when they come here......over there it is quite different. But you wouldn't think THAT now would you? (rolls eyes)

Sign Up for Breaking News