Sep 10 2012

On Transfer of Prison to Afghan Control

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the transfer of Afghanistan’s Parwan Detention Facility to Afghan control.


“The transfer of the Parwan Detention Facility is a significant achievement and major step forward in the planned transition from American to Afghan control of the war.


“I have seen the cautious, balanced approach on prison transfer develop from its beginning stages to full implementation.  I also know from my own personal experiences that those who worked on this project have kept American and Afghan security interests at the forefront of their thinking.  For this reason, the agreement contains important checks and balances addressing the potential release of individuals likely to go back to the fight.


“During my travels to Afghanistan, I have constantly reinforced the message with Afghan President Karzai that if you push prisoner transition from American to Afghan control too far and too fast -- resulting in a release of a detainee who commits a future act of violence -- it would do serious damage to American support for the mission.


“There are two groups of prisoners who have to be cautiously dealt with.  The first is third-country nationals who have been captured in Afghanistan and linked to the highest levels of the Al-Qaeada movement and other terrorist organizations.  These prisoners, in my view, should never be placed in the Afghan legal system.  They should remain in U.S. custody as they represent great national security threats to our nation.  They are also good candidates for detention at Guantanamo Bay.


“The second group is Afghans who have been labeled as enduring security threats by our forces because of their ties to the Taliban or Haqqani network.  We must never transfer these high value threats until the Afghan legal system has proven to be sound and capable of dealing with such cases.  I’m confident General Allen and the Obama Administration will be rightly cautious when it comes to transferring prisoners who represent a high security risk.  We will continue to work with the Afghan government to resolve the future of this small category of prisoners.


“My goal has always been to enhance Afghan sovereignty while never losing focus on U.S. force protection.  I am hopeful this prison transition will create a partnership between U.S. and Afghan military and intelligence forces allowing us to gather intelligence as well as keep enemy forces off the battlefield.


“I have seen no inclination by U.S. forces or the Obama Administration to transition control of the prison in a haphazard manner or to wash our hands of this problem.  Quite the contrary, I have seen a focused effort to ensure this is done correctly in both the short and long-term.


“Looking forward, I believe the transfer of the Parwan facility can become a model for how to achieve Afghan sovereignty in other areas as well.  With continued mentoring and resources, the Afghans have the will and ability to chart their own destiny to a better, brighter future.


“Congratulations to General Huber and his team at Task Force 435, along with their U.S. Embassy counterparts, in making this transfer successful and timely.  Under their leadership, the facility has become a model for Law of War detention.”