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Originally posted by Grock
Not too many things are antithetical to constitutional and moral principles than secret prisons. Keeping prisoners incommunicato in remote, sometimes undisclosed facilities with no meaningful oversight brings to mind medieval dungeons. Yet, 21st century America has set up at LEAST 20 such shadowy dungeons. Some are officially admitted to exist, although we have next to no idea of what goes on inside, but authorities won't even concede the existence of some of the others. Both George W. Bush and State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Cofer Black have stated that at least 3,000 detainees have entered this subterranean network of Off-the-book prisons.
The most well-known no-man's-land is at the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Originally, detainees were held in the outdoor Camp X-Ray; then they were moved to Camp Delta, built by Halliburton for an average cost of $47,550 for each 6-by-8-foot cell. The number of people held at this Caribbean gulag is usually given as somewhere around 600.
The other dark hole with the highest visibility is the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, which dominated world headlines for weeks after '60 minutes' quit obeying the Pentagon and mustered the courage to broadcast photos of prisoners being beaten, abused, and sexually humiliated by giddy US military personnel.
The final facility with a somewhat high profile is the Collection Center located at the US Air Force Base in Bagram, Afghanistan, which is said to be the primary detention center in that country. (The CIA has its own off-the-record hellhole in Bagram, plus another one - called The Pit - in Kabul.) Then there's the holding pen at Kandahar, supposedly just a way station for those headed to Bagram to enjoy the Air Force's hospitality. US Central Command has said that Afghanistan has many more facilities, as many as 20, that are just temporary stops on the road to Bagram, eaither directly or via Kandahar. The number of detainees is reprtedly 300-something.
Iraq is home to a bare minimum of twelve detainment facilities run by the US military or the so-called Coalition. In addition to Abu Ghraib, the two big facilities are Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca, with smaller ones scattered about.
The only known Constitution-free detention center on US soil is the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. It's home to two US citizens - Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi - who were held without legal recourse for two years before the Supreme Court half-heartedly stepped into the vicious battle over their fates. The brig also holds Qatar citizen Ali Kahlah al-Marri, who was originally indicted on fraud and vague terrorism charges through the normal justice process; just before trial, though, Bush declared him an enemy combatant, and he was whisked into the brig.
Numerous news articles focus on detention centers in Pakistan, but US authorities refuse to comment. The neather-confirm-nor-deny approach also hold for a reported CIA vacation spot in Jordan, the Al Jafr prison. On the other hand, the Pentagon specifically denies continued reports of captives being held at the US Naval Base on the supremely remote island of Diego Garcia.
Human RIghts First, the first group to tally all of these secret prisons, also notes that small numbers of detainees - including "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh - have been held for short periods abourd US warships...
The group points out the Grand Canyon-size gulf between words and deeds: "In Its Country Reports on human rights conditions abroad, the US Department of State has consistantly criticized the practice of holding individuals incommunicado in secret facilities."