|GUANTANAMO CONTINUING ROW
The Obama administration is looking into detaining international terrorism suspects at the USA military Bagram air base in Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday 03/21/2010.
Holding suspects captured outside Afghanistan at Bagram air base, in North-East Afghanistan would create another prison serving the same purpose as the one President Barack Obama has pledged to close in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (see - Gitmo-the end). The current prison in Bagram is scheduled to be handed over to the Afghan authorities in the near future.
The idea has drawn stiff opposition from Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of USA and NATO-ISAF forces in Afghanistan, and other senior officials. Opponents worry the expansion of the facility at Bagram air base could make it harder to stabilize the country, the Times said.
Detainee abuse, including two deaths, occurred at Bagram early in the Afghan war, and the prison there has been criticized for harsh interrogations and the amount of time it has held suspects without trials (see - Bagram Escape).
Though the original prison has been replaced by a new one on the base, suspicion remains, and McCrystal worries the expansion of Bagram's role could be used for propaganda by extremists, the Times said.
"General McCrystal's singular focus is on making sure our military campaign is successful," a senior Defense Department official said. "Anything that potentially complicates that is something they are reluctant to embrace" (see - Buds Of Success).
Consideration of the plan, which needs Obama's approval, is an indication the administration has few other places to hold and interrogate foreign prisoners outside the USA court system, senior administration officials told the Times (see - Gitmo-apeals).
The officials said that with no non-USA location for sending prisoners, the administration must bring the prisoners back to the United States, turn them over to foreign governments or, in some cases, kill them (see - US-DEBATE).
"No one particularly likes any of the choices before us right now, but Bagram may be the least bad among them," the Defense Department official said. A White House spokesman refused to comment.
* Related topics -