US Department of Defense officials Jan. 15 released the names of prisoners held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, in response to a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last year. The list, containing the names of 645 prisoners, several of whose last names were listed as unknown, was heavily redacted, omitting some requested information about the prisoners, such as citizenship, date of capture, and circumstances of capture. US law allows withholding of information in compliance with an executive order or because requested information details the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
Last week, Afghan officials signed a memorandum of understanding to delineate the process under which they will eventually take over the Bagram detention facility. The transfer of responsibility is expected within six months. Meanwhile, Afghan courts have already been prosecuting some of the prisoners held at Bagram. A June 5 , 2008 McClatchy newspapers investigative report found that many of the prisoners held at Bagram were civilians who were arrested based on false information. Prisoners at Bagram have launched habeas corpus challenges in US courts but thus far have been less successful than those held at Guantánamo Bay. (Jurist, Jan. 15)