They may not have held the whip, but they closed their ears to the cries of pain.
Then to top it off, when it was discovered that they were helping to provide the bodies for the torture chamber, Stockwell Day just turned to the standard Tory action when discovered in a scandal. Lie, lie, lie.
Calls for Defence Minister ouster over Afghan detainees
TENILLE BONOGUORE and DANIEL LEBLANC
Globe and Mail
April 23, 2007
Updated March 31, 2009
Canada's opposition parties were demanding changes to the Afghanistan detainee transfer agreement and calling for the Defence Minister's resignation following accounts of gruesome torture of prisoners in Kandahar.
Monday's Question Period exploded with a barrage of complaints and repeated calls for Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's ouster from the portfolio.
The calls were sparked by a Globe and Mail investigation that uncovered gruesome stories and allegations of abuse by Afghan authorities who take prisoners who have been captured by Canadian troops, despite Canada's assurances that the rights of detainees are protected.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said the transfer of prisoners to Afghan authorities should stop immediately, a public inquiry be launched and Mr. O'Connor be sacked. He was backed up by all opposition parties.
The matter dominated early debate in Question Period. Deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Mr. O'Conner was “incompetent” and should be replaced by a minister “who can ensure the Geneva convention will be respected” by both Canada and its allies.
Liberal Defence Critic Denis Coderre later told the Globe the party would “do what we have to do” to have their demands answered. “At every level ... [the Harper Government] totally failed in Canada's role regarding human rights,” Mr. Coderre said. “There's too many questions.”
Earlier Monday, human rights experts and university professors Michael Byers and Amir Attaran said the Canadian Forces should stop transferring detainees into Afghan hands and build their own detention facility in the Asian country.
In the current circumstances, they said, Canadian Forces members are complicit in the alleged torture that is inflicted on prisoners of war in Afghan prisons.
“Under international law, you are prohibited from transferring to torture. You are prohibited from facilitating torture in any way,” said Mr. Byers, who teaches international law and politics at the University of British Columbia.
“We're not simply speaking about the criminal responsibility of individual Canadian soldiers. We're speaking also of command responsibility, of criminal responsibility that continues up the chain of command, to any superior officer who knew of the risk of torture and who ordered or allowed our soldiers to transfer detainees nevertheless,” he said.
In 30 interviews with men recently captured in Kandahar province, a Globe and Mail investigation has uncovered a litany of gruesome stories and a clear pattern of abuse by the Afghan authorities who work closely with Canadian troops, despite Canada's assurances that the rights of detainees are protected.
Mr. Attaran said the Canadian government has to make an announcement by the end of the day, given that allegations of torture in Afghan prisons are now public.
“The acid test for (Mr. O'Connor and Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier) is today. Can they, by the end of the day, call it quits on what is an illegal practice?” said the law professor at the University of Ottawa.
Canadian Forces members regularly hold detainees for a few days of questioning at Kandahar Air Field, then give them to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence police. Over and over, detainees interviewed by The Globe described how Canadians tied their hands with plastic straps, marking the start of nightmarish journeys through shadowy jails and blood-spattered interrogation rooms. “If this report is accurate, Canadians have engaged in war crimes, not only individually but also as a matter of policy,” Mr. Byers said.
Then of course, Stephen Harper, rather than answer to the allegations, pulled his usual blame it on the Opposition, who he claimed must apologize to the troops. For What?
In Question Period, in the face of continued questions about the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Harper continues to instead choose partisanship over substance to respond to the issue. He continues to fail to recognize the significance of Canada fully adhering to the Geneva Conventions and to be seen to be doing so to the world.
Instead, Harper's instincts are to mock Dion and Layton and use the troops as a shield for his accountability. The opposition should apologize to the troops? Are you kidding me? This is not about the troops. This is about Harper and O'Connor. The only parties that owe an apology to the troops are Harper and O'Connor. They've let this situation develop in Afghanistan where the Canadian Forces are put in the middle of a chaotic no-win situation.
They've ramped up the combat mission yet left our Forces in the position of having no safeguards to ensure the Geneva Conventions will be followed. That's inexcusable and it's a lack of civilian experience and proper oversight of the military operation that is the problem.
But Stockwell Day trumped them all when he told an out and out lie in the House of Commons. He claimed that detainees were being monitored and that Correctional staff from Canada were doing the monitoring. That man has such a wild imagination. I guess he needs something to make up for his complete lack of education and moral compass.
Stockwell Day, April 26, 2007: "I can tell the House that for a considerable period of time now, our own Correctional Service Canada has had corrections officers working in Kandahar. As a matter of fact, I talked with one of them two days ago. Fifteen times already she has had access to the prison facility in Kandahar. She has full access. She also made a visit yesterday to the detention facility."
Stockwell Day again, April 27, 2007 :"They are there to support the Afghan officers by training them in the work that they do in the prisons and also to ensure, to see if there are cases of torture."
Of course none of that is true. OK, maybe about correctional officers being there, but they did not have access to prisoners.
April 28, 2007
OTTAWA - Urging an end to the "political circus" over Afghan detainees, Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada says no Canadians, including corrections officers, have monitored treatment of prisoners turned over by Canadian military forces.
However, Ambassador Omar Samad said in a Global National interview that Canadian officials will soon have "unrestricted access" to prisons under an agreement currently being worked out with Canada in the wake of political uproar over alleged torture of detainees.
Samad contradicted assertions by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day that Corrections Canada officers have been monitoring prisoner treatment - an assertion Day repeated in the Commons Friday, saying they are there "to see if there are cases of torture."
Samad said Corrections Canada officers have for many months, under their mandate to help build Afghan police capacity, had access to some prisons in Afghanistan and may have come across prisoners.
"It doesn't mean those were detention centres of people who were arrested by Canadian forces," Samad said. "So if this has created confusion, I think that we all need to take a step back and define what we're talking about and to bring some clarity to this instead of turning it into a political circus."
"From the Afghan point of view, it's clear there was no followup or monitoring of detainees caught by Canadian forces turned over to Afghans, especially to the NDS (National Directorate of Security) that took place prior to this current time."
Day came under fire in the Commons earlier, with opposition MPs saying the corrections officers, sent in February to help prison reconstruction efforts, have no mandate to monitor prisoners or enforce a Canada-Afghanistan prisoner transfer agreement.
The minister had trumpeted their role Thursday after three days of confusion and contradiction about alleged abuse of prisoners turned over by Canadian troops, access to Afghan prisons and enforcement of a Canada-Afghan prisoner transfer agreement under which the Afghan human rights commission was to monitor prisoner treatment.
Day had said Thursday that corrections staff had made 15 visits to Afghan jails. But his spokeswoman, Melissa Leclerc, had said later they have no mandate to monitor prisoner treatment.
On Friday, Day told the Commons "they are there to support the Afghan officers by training them in the work that they do in the prisons and also to ensure, to see if there are cases of torture."
After question period, deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor should be "put out of his misery" after five days of contradictions and confusion on the Afghan detainee affair.
And former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler told reporters that Canadians must be trained specifically to recognize torture and abuse if they are going to be part of a systematic monitoring system.
"You can't have a drive-by inquiry by some corrections officials who may in fact not even know that it's part of their mandate to monitor the detainees and to understand if there have been situations of torture and inhumane treatment," Cotler said.