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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Still Running Secret Jails

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Posted on Nov 28, 2009
Bagram
U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Good

Bagram Air Base, above, in Afghanistan, houses a secret detention camp that inmates call the “black jail” because it is closed to outside groups such as the Red Cross.

Human rights researchers and former detainees agree: Despite its stated goal of improving detention conditions, the U.S. continues to run a secret prison in Afghanistan, a site that holds inmates, sometimes for weeks at a time, without access to outside groups such as the Red Cross. Another such U.S. jail is said to exist in Iraq. —JCL

The New York Times:

An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates for sometimes weeks at a time and without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.

The site, known to detainees as the black jail, consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day. Detainees said that their only human contact was at twice-daily interrogation sessions. ...

...  The jail’s operation highlights a tension between President Obama’s goal to improve detention conditions that had drawn condemnation under the Bush administration and his stated desire to give military commanders leeway to operate. While Mr. Obama signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January, that order did not apply to this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces.

Military officials said as recently as this summer that the secret Afghanistan jail and another like it at the Balad Air Base in Iraq were being used to interrogate high-value detainees in isolation. And officials said recently that there were no plans to close the detention centers.

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By Partizannka, June 15, 2010 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

Honestly, it came as no big surprise for me…

msd 250/2

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, December 1, 2009 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

Brilliance perceived in obtaining non accountability may not be brilliance at all, seems more like business as usual.

Deceptions perceived as brilliant, are more lies of the deluded to me, brilliant to others.

Yes, the picture becomes very clear, well! As clear as muddy water is brilliant.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, December 1, 2009 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Outraged,

Re: SSB

Rumsfeld is absolutely brilliant for creating this extra DoD intelligence arm.  We can only hope the DoD has retained this capability (I would be willing to bet it has). 

Are you aware of any evidence which suggests the U.S. President was in any way circumvented? I would be interested in seeing that.  Please don’t respond that your evidence is Jeremy Scahill.

If you wish to know a great deal more about the SSB, it’s inception and mandate, you may wish to pick up a copy of Douglas Feith’s book, “War and Decision”.  He covers the subject at length.

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By Outraged, December 1, 2009 at 2:12 am Link to this comment

In response to my comment:

“The truth is only beginning to be realized, Jeremy Scahill exposes a measure of it @ The Nation Magazine:

”As part of their strategy, Rumsfeld and Cheney also created the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), which pulled intelligence resources from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA for use in sensitive JSOC operations. The SSB was created using “reprogrammed” funds “without explicit congressional authority or appropriation,” according to the Washington Post. The SSB operated outside the military chain of command and circumvented the CIA’s authority on clandestine operations. Rumsfeld created it as part of his war to end “near total dependence on CIA.” Under US law, the Defense Department is required to report all deployment orders to Congress. But guidelines issued in January 2005 by former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone stated that Special Operations forces may “conduct clandestine HUMINT operations…before publication” of a deployment order. This effectively gave Rumsfeld unilateral control over clandestine operations.”
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091207/scahill

A very good article.  Note: If you circumvent the “chain of command”, you very deliberately CIRCUMVENT the President.  But that wasn’t good enough for these two, they circumvented the CIA also.  For me, this lends so much clarity to the Joesph Wilson/Valerie Plame conundrum.”

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By Roger Lafontaine, November 30, 2009 at 8:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really don’t believe who is president anymore. The National Security State does whatever it wants regardless of who we elect, always one of their stooges anyway. The last honest president was probably Jimmy Carter whose re-election failure was assured with the rigged failure of that hostage rescue attempt. You notice he is the only one who has ever stuck his neck out for the Palestinian cause. I don’t believe Obama ever intended to be anything other than the supreme agent of the state, which is probably the real title that we should give to the presidency. As for secrets, yes it’s rather amazing isn’t it? Everybody knows, for instance, that Israel has nuclear weapons, and yet all the politicians and newspeople simply go on acting as if there’s no elephant in the room. We have become so used to seeing the emperor naked that if we see a candidate who actually has clothes on we automatically dismiss him or her as being ‘quixotic’ or ‘unrealistic’ because ‘that’s not how the game is played’.

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By Leefeller, November 30, 2009 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

Does this mean the secret is out of the closet, or is it still a secret of sorts? You know, talking about a secret sort of means it is not a secret anymore. Maybe it is a secret because it has not been on Fox New Yet!

Maybe secret’s have degrees of secretiveness. Like the secret Bush was an idiot, or conspiracy theories are sort of secrets, from the grassy knoll to 911 and of course my favorite alian anal probes. Those darn Mexicans, but just the illegal kind, the aliens Lou Dobbs had a fetish over.

One looks at our government and all the secrets which seem so well tucked in from light of day, like partisan politics is supposed to mean their is a real difference between both parties, when one digs down it is like the difference between identical twins. So when Bush was president, the Democrats yelled bloody murder but voted for everything he wanted. Now with Obama as President things have really changed, we see a responsive government instituting its most effectual deceptions with a great majority still doing nothing.

Of course their may be a secret involved.

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By liecatcher, November 29, 2009 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

U.S. STILL RUNNING SECRET JAILS
Posted on Nov 28, 2009

Once privatized fascist businesses are never
temporary.

You’d be surprised who is profiting from the billions

of dollars flowing into both Koreas for more than
half

a century with no end in sight. Or like the mercenary

army trained to control American “protesters”.

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Clash's avatar

By Clash, November 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

The empire still has dungeons all over the world? The hell you say.

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By Leefeller, November 29, 2009 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Since this is supposed to be a Secret Jail, and we are hearing about it, why is it still called a secret?

This reminds me of some morons saying Obama is a Progressive president, when he seems right of center depending from were one is standing.

Obama is doing a better job then Bush, simply because we have not been attacked since he has been in office. So for the simpletons this is hard imbecile logic.  One can safely conclude we have not been attacked because McCain and Palin did not win the presidency? How about, I can safely say we were never attacked since the campaign, because I did not run for president and did not think about it!

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By melpol, November 29, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Attacks by al-Qaeda against innocent civilians is expected to increase as the war
in Afghanistan is expanded. Swift and severe punishment is necessary for those
that endanger the lives of the innocent. The owner of a weapon found hidden in
the saddle of his camel must be executed immediately. The camel must then be
escorted to a compound where it will be turned over to the Kabul government.
Camels have been turned into the Cavalry of al-Qaeda, and they are massing for a
charge against Kabul. Unfortunately many animals will be killed before the war is
ended.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, November 29, 2009 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

Outraged,

Hopefully the SSB can mitigate the types of intelligence fiasco’s that led the CIA to misunderstand, and ultimately misreport, the WMD in Iraq.

Rumsfeld is brilliant for understanding the limitations of the CIA!

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By jleman, November 29, 2009 at 8:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember, what all are seeing is what is being projected onto a screen of the media.
Consider this? The military/industrial complex is so out of control, and in control of the US that an elected President no longer can rein it in. It is he who must ride the tiger.
Congress certainly hasn’t even tried to wrest control back. The judiciary is a joke. The power of the administration is meaningless unless it is able to back it up with the necessary applied, or threatened force. The military and the mercenary forces still inflict havoc upon the planet at will. Most in the US will never even hear of the extent to which it is going on.
Obama can make statements all day long but this affects nothing because he doesn’t have control of the military and the extra-judicial process created to circumvent the controls of the Constitution. Those who created those circumventing systems haven’t been charged with a crime and the current person riding the tiger says they won’t be. The shadow government stays in control no matter who is presented as being at the helm of the civilian government. Has anyone forgotten the words “accident” and “assassination” of entire families?

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, November 29, 2009 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Outraged,

According to CIA de-briefers Joseph Wilson told them things quite contrary to what he told the public and wrote in his now famous Op-Ed.

The man’s a known and proven liar.  You must have missed that part or, you “cherry picked” what was useful for you?

As for the reported SSB: Great!  We’ll hope the Obama administration copies the very same intelligence gathering matrix for the Dept. of Defense.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, November 29, 2009 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

The truth is only beginning to be realized, Jeremy Scahill exposes a measure of it @ The Nation Magazine:

”As part of their strategy, Rumsfeld and Cheney also created the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), which pulled intelligence resources from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA for use in sensitive JSOC operations. The SSB was created using “reprogrammed” funds “without explicit congressional authority or appropriation,” according to the Washington Post. The SSB operated outside the military chain of command and circumvented the CIA’s authority on clandestine operations. Rumsfeld created it as part of his war to end “near total dependence on CIA.” Under US law, the Defense Department is required to report all deployment orders to Congress. But guidelines issued in January 2005 by former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone stated that Special Operations forces may “conduct clandestine HUMINT operations…before publication” of a deployment order. This effectively gave Rumsfeld unilateral control over clandestine operations.”
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091207/scahill

A very good article.  Note: If you circumvent the “chain of command”, you very deliberately CIRCUMVENT the President.  But that wasn’t good enough for these two, they circumvented the CIA also.  For me, this lends so much clarity to the Joesph Wilson/Valerie Plame conundrum.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, November 29, 2009 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

peterjkraus, November 28 at 11:14 pm

Your post is illustrative of many things.  I find it fascinating that you see two U.S. Presidents doing the very same things for the very same reasons, however, one is a bum but the other simply brilliant and should know better.

You either condemn both in equal fashion or you vindicate each of them.

Guantanamo, military tribunals, renditions, indefinite detention, intercepts, Predators, wiretaps, and, yes, “enhanced interrogations”, have for year been held up as uniquely “Bush” and, signs of evil Neo-Con intent.  Now this no longer holds true.

Basically “progressive” thinkers have been wrong for eight years.  How does it feel to have been so wrong for so long?  How does it feel to have the Progressive Obama come to office and, contrary to his campaign rhetoric, essentially say; Oh Shit…Bush was right…we actually NEED these tools and tactics?

If the subject matter were not so serious this would be funny.  No more evil Neo-Cons in the White House but, the globe remains the same.

It will, I’m sure, take some time for you and others to digest your complete and total failure to pay attention for the past decade plus.

Welcome to how the world actually works.

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By peterjkraus, November 28, 2009 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

Coming from a bum like W, it was no surprise that we tortured at secret prisons throughout the world. But a man who taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago for 12 years should know better.

Our international reputation as blowhards is well deserved. We all placed a lot of hope in Obama, but that was misplaced, it seems.

Secret prisons? What next—torture dungeons in the East Wing of the White House?

Shame.

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By Rodney, November 28, 2009 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Secret jails mean secret torture. This is not what I voted for.We are not a country of morals and I’m sick and tired of sharing the values of Iran China Iraq North Korea and our oil buddies Saudi Arabia where secret prisons are commonplace.

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By Artemis, November 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Truthdig:
“Despite its stated goal of improving detention conditions, the U.S. continues to run a secret prison in Afghanistan”

“the U.S.” cannot state a goal, and “it” does not run the secret prison. American military thickos do.

NYT:
“An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates for sometimes weeks at a time” with no access by the Red Cross.

A camp is a place, “it” cannot hold anybody. Human beings are secretly imprisoning other human beings.

Enough of this Orwellian newspeak. VILE PEOPLE are doing this.  And they’re being paid good money to do so - by you.

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By Go Right Young Man, November 28, 2009 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

Each time I mention or question the GITMO type prisons in Afghanistan and Jordan (perhaps more) to an Obama fan, they ignore the question or very quickly change the subject.  Usually by way of an clumsy segue into how brilliant the president is.

The growing problem for the Obama administration is that the public has finally caught on that the president’s tough rhetoric and soaring oratory don’t match reality.  Guantanamo is about to go the way of tribunals, renditions, intercepts, Predators, and wiretaps — damned in rhetoric, but kept intact in reality.

“Transparency” did not quite happen either: The Obama administration has offered more photo-ops and fewer press conferences (cf. Anita Dunn on that tact), and Washington and the White House has as many lobbyists as ever. Meanwhile, the administration has not fulfilled its promise to post pending legislation on the Internet; it has politicized the NEA; and it has declared war on Fox News, the Chamber of Commerce, and the town-hall protesters.

Obama’s “reset button” foreign policy in just ten months has made the Middle East worse and has delighted European leftists as much as it has terrified Europe’s centrist leaders. In Latin America, the U.S. has gone from being an advocate of consensual government, human rights, and market capitalism to being an appeaser of Chávez, Zelaya, Ortega, the Castros, et al., inasmuch as these communist hardliners are now seen as problematic advocates for indigenous peoples and economic justice.

We are left with two conclusions. 1) A very inexperienced president has discovered that all the easy, Manichean campaign rhetoric of 2008 does not translate well into actual governance. 2) Obama is in a race to push a rather radical, polarizing agenda down the throat of a center-right country before the country wakes up and his approval ratings hit 40 percent.

I like the president personally, however, his message to the world is quickly becoming tiresome. “Hope and Change” appears to have morphed into “Get Used to an ‘Unprecedented’ and Exceptional President and an Unexceptional United States”.


The next year will be one of the most interesting in memory.

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By ardee, November 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

President Obama is responsible, as commander in chief, for this violation of human rights and common decency. Just which nations are harboring terrorists? We are perhaps the sponsors of far more terrorism that ever bin Laden dreamed about.

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By gerard, November 28, 2009 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Why “without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross”?  If there is nothing to hide ...?  In fact, the jailers should welcome the Red Cross to give them legitimacy and decrease criticism.  Or do they care about criticism?  If not, why not?

The most important aspect of this story is not whether such a jail “highlights a tension” between Obama’s policy and the Pentagon, but what is actually going on there—or not.

“Giving military commanders leeway” hasn’t worked out so well at Guantanamo or Bagram. Are we so stupid and frantic that we pursue cruelty and evasion helter-skelter, wherever, whenever, even though we know it is wrong and counterproductive?

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