Saturday, May 14, 2011

What Will Become of the Afghan Detainee Issue Now?

I picked up a copy of political science professor Todd Gordon's Imperialist Canada yesterday, and it's quite an eye opener.

Canada is the only country with troops in Afghanistan, not to have an independent media, and all news is directed from the PMO, with what a former senior NATO public affairs official called a "6,000-mile screwdriver".

Gordon writes:
The Canadian military has also been implicated in the beating of prisoners. Canadian soldiers allegedly beat and abused Afghan soldiers in the spring of 2006 while military police turned a blind eye. The abuse became public when Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor, uncovered unexplained patterns of injuries among Canadian detainees in documents received under an Access to Information request. An investigation was undertaken by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service. However, by the end of 2009 the investigation is still incomplete and no charges have been laid. Military records for the detainees from the period in which the abuse allegedly took place have also mysteriously gone missing." (1)
Attaran's report here, here and here.
Meanwhile, the Canadian military was handing prisoners over to the Afghan prison system where they routinely faced torture. The former governor of Kandahar, Asadullah Khalid, was accused by at least one prisoner of beating and electrically shocking him. Former Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier initially responded to the accusations with praise for the governor, asserting that he is doing "phenomenal work." It turns out the Tories knew about Khalid's involvement in the torture of detainees but tried to keep it secret while Foreign Affairs officials quietly worked to remove him from power before the incident became public knowledge. (1)
And as we know Stephen Harper dismissed the concerns because, according to him, they were made by Taliban.
Yet one of the victims was able to correctly tell Canadian investigators where the rubber hose and electrical cable used by the torturers were kept. The military also acknowledged that it cannot account for at least fifty prisoners it turned over to Afghan authorities. No record of them exists. As public criticism of detainee transfers grew, the military quietly stopped transferring prisoners into Afghan authority in November 2007, although it is unclear where they transferred them instead, since DND has no prison in Afghanistan. However, the military subsequently resumed transferring detainees into Afghan custody in April 2008, claiming it had assurances from the Afghan government that prisoners transferred from Canada would not be tortured. Leaked memos indicate, however, that the military suspended the transfers at least one more time .

That has not stopped the Tory government from trying to clamp down on the MPCC so that the true extent of abuse of detainees, and knowledge of the abuse among political and military leaders, is not exposed. It has stalled the MPCC's inquiry by challenging its mandate in the courts; made clear to the Commissioner that his term will not be renewed when it is finished well before the inquiry is complete; refused to provide documents to the inquiry and heavily redacted others even though the MPCC's investigators have the highest level of national security clearance; and it threatened the former director of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction team ...
And we all know what happened to Richard Colvin when he stood up to the Harper regime.

Harper, Tory cabinet ministers and military leaders have all denied Colvin's claims, attacked his credibility ... despite the fact that leaked memos backed up his testimony.

Harper had managed to stall the release of detainee documents until after the election, so will he now use the new powers invested upon him by the Supreme Court, to make sure that they never see the light of day?

And how will this play out with the International Criminal Court who are suggesting that Canada could be charged with war crimes?

It's very dangerous to give an egomaniac this much power. And yet we did.


1. Imperialist Canada, By Todd Gordon, Arbeiter Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-894037-4507, Pg. 353-354


  1. What I wouldn't give to see Harpie charged with war crimes.

  2. I used to think that the Reform-Conservatives had some kind of 'master plan' that they used to govern Canada, and that they referred to it when dealing with these kinds of situations (e.g. - abuse of detainees)

    However, I now think that the R-Cs have no 'master plan' at all and are just a bunch of incompetents, in well over their heads, who lash out at those who dare bring their incompetence to light.

    The latest wikileaks documents add credence to this R-C incompetence theory - the Americans essentially view Harper as little more than a delivery boy for a bunch of grocery clerks.

    The implementation of the R-C simplistic 'evangelical-corporate fascist' ideology seems to be their only agenda. Responsibly governing Canada is not a part of that agenda, and, in any event, would be beyond their abilities.

  3. You're absolutely right. Harper only wants the power and control. Ad hoc solutions to complex problems.

  4. I hope we see developments soon in the ICC investigation of Canada and Afghan detainees... if it comes soon, it could throw his whole game plan off-balance, although he would still have a majority, and still be able to accomplish everything on his wish-list.