The Dark Prison Gets a Little Spotlight

While the president and the punditocracy alike have no compunctions in talking about Guantanamo Bay, Obama's promise to close it, the missing of the deadline, the problem with the Yemeni prisoners, et al., the word that continues to be unspoken is Bagram, the name of our oh-so-secret prison in Afghanistan, and the only one of our prisons where two of our detainees seem to have met their demise at the hands of enhanced interrogators. This week, for a moment, two shafts of light fall on Bagram.

First, a U.S. appeals court on Thursday heard oral arguments on the question of whether the U.S. Supreme Court's decision granting habeas corpus rights to Gitmo inmates may also apply to certain Bagram residents, specifically detainees who were rounded up outside Afghanistan and then shipped to Bagram. Afghan detainees need not apply, because it's a war zone.

Then, there comes an announcement that the U.S. military is investigating allegations that two Afghan teens were beaten while in custody at Bagram. What the adolescents allege in terms of treatment sounds so similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, and what British troops have reportedly done at their Basra detention center in Iraq, that one imagines there must be a military orchard someplace where all the bad apples are being bred.