U.S. Transfers Infamous Bagram Prison to Afghan Govt.

The infamous Bagram military prison in Afghanistan has officially been transferred from the U.S. military to Afghanistan officials, though the transfer has been far from peaceful as the two sides trade barbs and accusations.

As the United States prepares for complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, the process of extricating the U.S. military from the longest war in U.S. history is sure to be bumpy and at times less than harmonious.

The transfer of the Bagram detention facility is of symbolic significance because it was also the scene of allegations of widespread torture of Afghan prisoners by U.S. troops in the early days of the war. It is also where U.S. troops are accused of burning copies of the Koran earlier this year, setting off days of lethal riots throughout the country. While those involved were disciplined, the Afghans didn’t think the punishments were harsh enough.

In the Bagram transfer, the Afghans are accusing the U.S. of reneging on the agreement by not handing over each of the estimated 3,000 prisoners at the Parwan Detention Facility. But the Americans are concerned that members of the Taliban and other insurgent groups will be released without proper scrutiny or will be subjected to torture—a concern that likely sounds hollow to the Afghans after so many cases of American torture were found to have occurred at Bagram. The Afghans also have accused the U.S. of holding suspects for long periods without officially charging them with crimes.

The United States has retained custody of about 35 detainees, many of them insurgent suspects, together with a few dozen non-Afghan nationals.

In a sign of the tensions surrounding the transfer, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the commander of the NATO force, reportedly had an angry dispute over the transfer issue during a weekend meeting. But a spokesman for the Western military, German Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz, said it was a private exchange “between partners.”

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