-Clara Gutteridge is renditions investigator at Reprieve. The opinions expressed are her own.-
The big surprise in Tuesday’s revelations of prisoner abuse at Bagram is how long these stories have taken to reach the international media, given the scale of the problem.
Bagram Airforce Base is Guantanamo Bay’s lesser known - but more evil - twin. Thousands of prisoners have been "through the system" at Bagram, and around 600 are currently held there. Meanwhile President Obama’s lawyers are fighting to hold them incommunicado; stripped of the right to challenge the reasons for their imprisonment.
In this way, Bagram Airforce Base is just the latest in a long line of U.S.-created legal black holes. And as evidence of abuse there has begun to leak out, the U.S. military has responded in exactly the same way as it did to similar allegations at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere: by insisting that the torture is just the work of a few low-ranking “bad apples” and repeating that the U.S. “does not torture”.
Sad to say, the truth has revealed itself to be just the opposite. Recently released U.S. government memos have shown the efforts of top U.S. lawyers to justify torture techniques to be used in prisons far from U.S. continental territory. Faced with such evidence, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that prisons like Bagram were created in large part because the U.S. wanted to torture certain people held there.