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Another Move in the Afghan Prison Shell Games: Certificates!

Shuffling the detainees from one shell to another with a desktop-produced certificate (photo: ISAF Media via Flickr)

In my most recent post on the shell games being employed by the United States in its attempt to deflect responsibility away from General Stanley McChrystal for his practice of widespread detention and abuse of innocent civilians as a central feature of his COIN strategy, I obtained a clear statement from a spokesman from US Central Command that McChrystal does maintain command authority over Joint Task Force 435, the unit headed by Vice Admiral Robert Harward that is tasked with responsibility for Afghan prisons, despite press reports that created the impression he did not have such command authority. Today, while scanning the most recent photos uploaded to Flickr from the ISAFMedia stream, I found a very interesting photo (at right).

Here, in full, is the caption that was provided for the photo:

CAMP DARULAMAN, Afghanistan – Brig. Gen. Saffiullah, Afghan National Army Military Police Brigade commander, holds a certificate presented by Vice Adm. Robert Harward, Joint Task Force 435 commander. The certificate was presented during a ceremony here April 5 in front of an ANA Military Police brigade. The brigade will complete the extensive training program prior to their assumption of detention facility security operations at the Detention Facility in Parwan. The brigade already conducts detention and corrections operations at the Afghan National Detention Facility in Pol-e-Charkhi. The event was another step toward the transition of the detention facility from the United States to the Afghan government. (Photo by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Joost Verduyn)

So it appears that the shell game has progressed to one prison already being handed over to Afghan control. With Saffiullah now in possession of his full color Military Police Training Certificate, he and his brigade are nearly ready to take over control of another prison. Somehow, I doubt that these changes will result in any improvements in the process for Afghan citizens who have been detained to obtain a hearing on whether they were properly arrested.

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Another Move in the Afghan Prison Shell Games: Certificates!

In my most recent post on the shell games being employed by the United States in its attempt to deflect responsibility away from General Stanley McChrystal for his practice of widespread detention and abuse of innocent civilians as a central feature of his COIN strategy, I obtained a clear statement from a spokesman from US Central Command that McChrystal does maintain command authority over Joint Task Force 435, the unit headed by Vice Admiral Robert Harward that is tasked with responsibility for Afghan prisons, despite press reports that created the impression he did not have such command authority. Today, while scanning the most recent photos uploaded to Flickr from the ISAFMedia stream, I found a very interesting photo:

Harward certificate

Here, in full, is the caption that was provided for the photo:

CAMP DARULAMAN, Afghanistan – Brig. Gen. Saffiullah, Afghan National Army Military Police Brigade commander, holds a certificate presented by Vice Adm. Robert Harward, Joint Task Force 435 commander. The certificate was presented during a ceremony here April 5 in front of an ANA Military Police brigade. The brigade will complete the extensive training program prior to their assumption of detention facility security operations at the Detention Facility in Parwan. The brigade already conducts detention and corrections operations at the Afghan National Detention Facility in Pol-e-Charkhi. The event was another step toward the transition of the detention facility from the United States to the Afghan government. (Photo by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Joost Verduyn)

So it appears that the shell game has progressed to one prison already being handed over to Afghan control. With Saffiullah now in possession of his full color Military Police Training Certificate, he and his brigade are nearly ready to take over control of another prison. Somehow, I doubt that these changes will result in any improvements in the process for Afghan citizens who have been detained to obtain a hearing on whether they were properly arrested.

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Jim White

Jim White

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