Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Another Washington Toilet Scandal

Are we facing another scandal akin to Abu Ghraib or, at the very least, Guantanamo? The front page of the New York Times carries a story depicting a “secretive American detention center” at Bagram in Afghanistan that has been plagued by “political, legal, and security problems.” The Red Cross has complained to the Pentagon about dozens of prisoners “held incommunicado for weeks or even months in a previously undisclosed warren of isolation cells.” American “human-rights” lawyers have already filed federal suits on behalf of these men.

Who are these detainees? The same story tells us that of the 630 or so in captivity at Bagram most are Taliban fighters captured on the battlefield. Thirty are non-Afghan, i.e., foreign fighters, in other words, members of al Qaeda. The facility is described by the Times as “primarily a repository for more dangerous prisoners captured in Afghanistan.”

These prisoners were supposed to be transferred to a refurbished prison facility, Pul-i-Charkhi, under Afghan control. But according to Red Cross officials this prison has “a significant flaw.” It seems that initially men were held in cells of eight and the only toilets available were in a public place at the end of a corridor.

This arrangement proved inadequate: “To improve security and hygiene, the Americans equipped each two-man cell in the new block with its own toilet.”

But this arrangement also proved inadequate: “because the cultural modesty of Afghan men would make them uncomfortable sharing an open toilet, it was subsequently decided that the prisoners should be held individually.” This had the effect reducing the prison’s projected capacity from 670 to 330.

These details about the toilets raise several questions:

Is the absence of private toilets at Bagram one of the features that has led to the Red Cross complaints and the lawsuits in federal court?

Are Americans less culturally modest than Afghans? Do American prisons provide the same of level privacy that “dangerous prisoners” in Afghanistan are given to enjoy?

These are some little dots that, in light of this latest prison scandal, remain to be connected.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.