Government Continues To Suppress Key Information About Hundreds Detained At Secretive Prison
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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal court to order the government to stop suppressing key information about the hundreds of prisoners at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
In response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records related to the detention and treatment of prisoners at Bagram, the Defense Department in January released for the first time a list of the people imprisoned at the notorious detention facility. The list contains the names of 645 prisoners who were detained there as of September 2009, but other vital information including their citizenship, how long they have been held, in what country they were captured and the circumstances of their capture has been redacted. Today's brief charges the Defense Department is improperly withholding these basic facts about Bagram prisoners and their detention.
Today's ACLU filing also asks the court to order the CIA, another defendant in the lawsuit, to process the FOIA request. The CIA has refused to process the request, claiming it cannot acknowledge whether it has Bagram-related rendition and interrogation records – even though its rendition of prisoners to Bagram and its interrogation of prisoners there is acknowledged and well-known.
The following can be attributed to Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
"While the Defense Department took a step in the right direction when it released the names of Bagram prisoners, the Department continues to withhold every other piece of vital information from that document. Information such as how long Bagram prisoners have been held, where they were captured and how they ended up in U.S. custody is vital to the public's understanding of what is going on at this secretive prison. The Defense Department has released volumes of this kind of information about Guantánamo prisoners but is baselessly hiding the same basic facts about Bagram prisoners. As long as the government improperly suppresses this information, there is no way to know if prisoners are being held for excessively long periods of time or if they should even be there at all, since they may have been seized far away from Afghanistan and rendered to Bagram or arrested under circumstances that do not warrant military detention. The court should order the government to stop hiding this vital information."
More information about the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit, including today's filings, is online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/bagram-foia