black jail

  • December 4, 2009
    Guest Post

    By Robert Braun, Curtis Isacke, Christine Ku and Hope Metcalf *

    The world breathed a collective sigh of relief when-just days into his administration-President Obama issued a series of executive orders to phase out Guantanamo, end torture, and shutter the Bush-era web of secret prisons.

    But recent revelations indicate that the Administration's actions have failed to match its lofty rhetoric. According to The New York Times and The Washington Post, the Obama administration continues to use the practice of secret detention at facilities such as the recently identified "black jail" located at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

    It is a shocking revelation, not least because of Obama's firm stance against virtually identical practices that occurred under the Bush administration. On the same day that the president called for a winding down of detention operations in Guantanamo Bay nearly a year ago, he ordered the immediate closure of the network of CIA-run "black sites". These secret prisons, where detainees were often held incommunicado before being transferred to other detention facilities or released, saw some of the worst human rights abuses in the "War on Terror." And yet the Obama administration has permitted their apparent reincarnation in Afghanistan. 

    Because the "black jails" in Afghanistan are managed by military Special Operations forces instead of the CIA, their existence does not technically violate Obama's executive order. Still, the maintenance of such facilities almost certainly runs afoul of U.S. commitments under human rights treaties and the Geneva Conventions. And the message to the world is clear: the Obama administration is willing to treat detention as an international shell game.