Is Bagram Closure on Obama's Agenda?

The former prisoner spoke of beatings, solitary confinement and threats from the military personnel. He is still undergoing psychological treatment. The German diplomat's report about his visit to Bagram provides only a small glimpse of the camp -- but it is reminiscent of the early days in Guantanamo. The German-Afghan man was led out in an orange jumpsuit, his hands and feet were fettered in steel chains, his eyes were covered by a black ski mask. It was only possible to speak with the prisoner in a small wooden box while heavily armed soldiers never left his side.

'Top Military Priority'

The few people who have seen the prison describe it as spartan. The prisoners are held in wire cages inside an aircraft hangar and unlike in Guantanamo there are no communal rooms. The sanitary facilities are said to be inadequate.

That is all supposed to change with the construction of the new prison. The Bush administration, though, also wanted to continue to prevent prisoners from having access to standard legal proceedings.

Now the world is watching to see what President Obama is going to do about Bagram. It is going to be a delicate balancing act. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that Afghanistan is the new president's "top military priority." Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates said that it was the greatest challenge facing the US military.

Obama wants to see a massive build up of military activities in Afghanistan. That, though, will inevitably lead to even more suspects ending up in Bagram.

One solution could be to hand these men over to the Afghan justice system. Except that the US doesn't trust it -- fearing that the suspects could easily end up buying their freedom or being allowed to escape.

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