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A reader of the blog flagged this interview conducted by Salon's Glenn Greenwald with Jonathan Horowitz, a researcher in Kabul, on detainees in Afghanistan and the detention facility at Bagram. It will surprise exactly zero members of this blog's readership to learn that at the time Horowitz was on the phone with Greenwald conducting this interview, I was in an adjacent room enjoying a really excellent gin and tonic.
I do not know Horowitz well, actually, but I was talking with him (and a friend of his, who I do know) about detention before the interview. Our concerns, as you might expect, are quite different. I have all the sympathy in the world for folks like Horowitz who worry U.S.-sanctioned detention policies are harming the U.S. and allied mission in Afghanistan. I am thus anxious to see what my buddy Phil does with Bagram, and I am similarly anxious to see what impact Gen. Stone's report has.
But one of the things that I worry about that Horowitz probably does not is not so much the procedures under which we detain but rather whether or not ISAF can detain at all. (It cannot.) As ISAF begins a pretty intense year of operations, it would be nice to have the ability to detain -- to take combatants off the battlefield and then exploit them for intelligence. Removing the enemy from the battlefield is a pretty common-sense thing to do, and the exploitation that comes with a well-run detention center and legally and morally appropriate interrogation procedures (.pdf) is invaluable. Instead, we are banking on the Afghans detaining and not releasing combatants -- and our ability to build up effective Afghan detention facilities. But how long will that take? How much longer do we have left in Afghanistan to defeat this insurgency?