KABUL, Afghanistan — American soldiers herded the detainees into holding pens of razor-sharp concertina wire, the kind that's used to corral livestock.
The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. U.S. troops shackled and dragged other detainees to small isolation rooms, then hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.
Former guards and detainees whom McClatchy interviewed said Bagram was a center of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.
The public outcry in the United States and abroad has focused on detainee abuse at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but sadistic violence first appeared at Bagram, north of Kabul, and at a similar U.S. internment camp at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.
This is from the second of a five-part series that McClatchy News Bureau has put together after its 8-month investigation into detainee and prisoner abuse. (It's being run in the Trenton Star-Ledger, among other papers.) Yesterday's topic was We Got the Wrong Guys and details how the majority of the detainees at Guantanamo are not "the worst of the worst" by any strentch of the imagination. Topics later in the week include A School for Jihad, "Due Process is Legal Mumbo-Jumbo" and "You are the king of this prison."
I'm embarassed for the country that we have done these things. But it's important to name them so they can be corrected and so they can never happen again. As one who believes all people are created in God's image and likeness, I ackowledge that all people are of equal value in God's eyes no matter what their religion or nationality or race or sexual orientation for that matter. Therefore, any time we treat anyone with less then the dignity that every human being deserves, and which we promise to do in the Bapitsmal Covenant, it's not only a breach of the laws of the United States, it might well be a sin as well. Last week's Supreme Court decision affirming that the Gitmo detainess have the right of habeus corpus in Federal court is a good first step.