Opinion Brief

A Gitmo in Afghanistan?

Obama might transfer Guantanamo terror suspects to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Bad idea?

As he seeks to honor a campaign pledge to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, President Obama is considering transferring some terrorism suspects to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. But the move would be controversial -- Army Gen. Stanley A. McCrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, warns that expanding the jail at Bagram could make the base a target for the Taliban. Does the U.S. need a Gitmo in Afghanistan? (Watch a report about Bagram's detainees)

No, both prisons should be closed: The only reason to move prisoners from Guantanamo to Bagram is to get out of the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, says Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive. The Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners at Gitmo have due process rights because the base is effectively U.S. property. But holding prisoners indefinitely is wrong whether we do it in Afghanistan or Cuba."Moving Guantanamo to Bagram could evade court jurisdiction"

The new Bagram could be part of the solution: The old Bagram jail, scene of well-documented abuses, has already been closed, says Laura King in the Los Angeles Times. The new facility at Bagram is six miles away, and part of a push to win over the Afghan public by showing improvement in the treatment of detainees. Access to lawyers remains an issue, but the Red Cross has welcomed the reforms, which include a community-release program for non-threatening prisoners.  "Afghan detainee releases aimed at earning goodwill"

This would only be a temporary fix: Housing prisoners captured outside Afghanistan at Bagram won't solve Obama's problems in the long term, says Michael Evans in the London Times. "Under current plans, Bagram is to be handed over to the Afghan Government next year." At that point, the U.S. would either have to retain control of a wing of the prison or find a new home for the suspects."Bagram prison in Afghanistan may become the new Guantanamo"

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