General Dunford, the head of NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan, has sought to explain the latest “sudden cancellation” of a transfer of detainees at the Bagram prison facility, saying it stems from a “difference of opinion.”
That difference of opinion, Dunford says, is over whether or not those detainees, who are being held without ever having been charged with a crime or seen the inside of a courtroom, might conceivably ever be released, something the US is opposing.
“If there are people that need to be detained, we will make sure they are detained,” Dunford added, and this indeed has been the dispute that has kept the transfer “paused” for nearly a year and strained relations with the Karzai government.
The US has conditioned any returns on the detainees being held forever and never being tried. Karzai has insisted that he can’t promise that because Afghan courts might eventually compel a trial for the detained and, lacking good evidence, some of them might end up released. Since the US seems determined to never accepting a trial, this could mean a protracted fight over those detainees.