Stern Talk Afghani Prisons

By JR Ancheta
Sun Star Reporter

Guest lecturer Willy Stern addresses the audience at the Schaible Auditorium Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. JR Ancheta / Sun Star

Journalist Willy Stern discussed his experiences during an embedded assignment in Afghanistan to university students, community members, veterans and enlisted soldiers Thursday, Nov. 4 at the Schaible Auditorium.

Stern explained the process of getting the story. “I was in Iraq a year or two before…for a run with Gen. Petraeus,” Stern said. While there, Stern met with Gen. Mark Martins as well. He explained how this connection with Martins eventually led him to be invited to Afghanistan to view the prisons in an effort promote transparency in the American military. Stern said that he was given complete access while in Afghanistan and was not censored by the U.S. Military.

Stern explained the situation in prisons, most especially in the Bagram Airbase’ detention facility north of Kabul. He called it “a state of the art facility nicer than any prison I’ve ever heard of in this country.” Stern said the amenities included 40-inch flat-screen TVs, hot and cold showers, 12 golf carts, a training center, medical facilities and three meals a day. “We are trying to treat the detainees humanely,” Stern said.

At the end of the talk, a man questioned Stern wanting to know if he was at UAF on behalf of the Pentagon. “I’m an independent journalist, the Pentagon doesn’t have a clue what I’m doing, they have no control over me, they are not funding me.”

An estimated 170 people attended the hour-long talk.  Stern acknowledged and honored audience members who were active duty soldiers or veterans, earning a round of applause from the audience. Stern also paid homage to the Joint Task Force 435 in Afghanistan by putting on a Kevlar jacket and helmet.

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