D.C. Federal Judge Orders Bush Administration to Produce Evidence About Bagram Prisoners « The Washington Independent
After hearing arguments on whether prisoners held indefinitely without charge at the U.S.-controlled prison at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan have the right to challenge their detention in American courts, Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia late Wednesday ordered the government to provide certain basic information about the approximately 600 people held there.
As I explained in my story yesterday, key to the government’s case that it’s entitled to keep holding the men indefinitely is that they were “captured on the battlefield” and are therefore “enemy combatants” whom the U.S. government may hold until it has declared hostilities are over. The petitioners in the habeas corpus cases heard yesterday, however, were all captured in different countries and sent to the Bagram prison in Afghanistan, where they have remained without charge or access to lawyers for years. Many prisoners at Bagram claim they’ve been beaten, tortured and humiliated by U.S. authorities. At least two prisoners at Bagram were beaten to death during interrogations.
Bates yesterday ordered the government to provide the following information:
- The number of detainees currently being held in Bagram Prison;
- The number of Bagram detainees who are Afghan citizens; and
- The number of Bagram detainees who were not captured in Afghanistan.
This suggests he’s at least taking a hard look at the government’s claim that the suspected terrorists or terrorist sympathizers imprisoned at Bagram are all battlefield captures. If they’re not, that supports the prisoners’ claims that they’re entitled to the same habeas corpus rights as prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Last June, the Supreme Court affirmed that, contrary to the government’s arguments, prisoners at Gitmo are entitled to challenge the legitimacy of their detention in U.S. courts.