US Furious as Afghans Release Detainees Held Without Evidence

Officials Warn Release Could Mean US Withdrawal

The handover of Bagram and other detention centers to the Afghan government came with a lot of US warnings not to release detainees, but with huge numbers held without any evidence against them, the courts have had little choice but to turn them loose.

That’s infuriated the US, and officials are now warning that it is threatening talks on a long-term American occupation, and could convince the US to follow through with its empty threats to withdraw outright.

The Afghan government has released 650 detainees from Bagram so far, and that’s 85% of the ones they’ve reviewed. US officials say that many of them have “American blood on their hands.”

That’s the claim, but there’s no evidence to back it up, and while the US claims “ample evidence” that freed insurgents return to the battlefield, they have no evidence that the guys they’re holding were insurgents in the first place.

That was never a problem for the US, which has grown unsettlingly comfortable with open-ended detention without charges or evidence. The Afghan government’s own fledgling legal system is having a harder time justifying keeping people locked up without at least a little evidence of wrongdoing, however, and that core difference is going to be a source of ongoing tension between the two nations.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.