Guantanamo Bay is still often in the public eye, especially now that a military commission is pursuing the 9/11 case there against alleged terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But there’s a site where the United States is holding detainees overseas in even more restrictive conditions then Guantanamo: a prison in Afghanistan, at the sprawling Bagram Air Base. Recently, the U.S. government agreed to transfer Afghan prisoners into the custody of the Afghan government. But there was a wrinkle: People who aren’t Afghans—who were taken to Bagram by the United States from outside the country—aren’t included in the agreement.
[On Monday], Justice Department lawyers [went] to federal court to argue that these international detainees should not get the right to see lawyers or challenge the basis for their captivity under the doctrine of habeas corpus. The case concerns three captives at Bagram captured early on in the war on terror. Two are Yemeni and one is Tunisian. One was captured in Thailand; another was captured in Pakistan. (The question of where the third was captured is somewhat unclear: The Pentagon says he was captured in Afghanistan, but lawyers who seek to represent him say he was captured outside the country.)
“The only reason our clients are there,” said Tina Foster, a lawyer in the case and executive director of the International Justice Network, “is that that they were forcibly taken there from third countries by the U.S.” She added, “We would argue that they were brought to Bagram for the purpose of keeping them out of the courts.” [++]