The March 9 deal to transfer control over Bagram prison to Afghan forces is going to come to a head this week with a high-profile “ceremony” in which Afghanistan will nominally take control. This is far afield from the reality, however.
Instead, officials admit, the US will keep control over a portion of the prison and will retain control over dozens of “foreign” detainees for an indefinitely period of time. The use of Bagram by the US to hold detainees has created a sort of legal black hole, as US courts have insisted the detainees have no actual rights and can’t challenge their captivity.
The retention of a portion of the facility will allow the US to keep detainees there more or less forever, but will create a PR problem for the Afghan government, particularly after the burning of some 100 Qurans at the facility was swept under the rug by the US military, which charged no one for the incident.
NATO officials have made a big deal of hyping transitions in the war to try to convince the weary voters that the end of the occupation is on the horizon, but in many cases it seems the narrative doesn’t bear any resemblence to the reality of the situation.