Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Torture of Detainees in Afghanistan and the Manley Panel

Well I was going to expand on the Manley report a bit because I find some things rather fishy. One item for example is how the panel dealt with the handling of the detainees. In fact, they didn't really deal with it all. They got assurances from our military that we were abiding by international standards and Canadian international agreements, but they did not have any access to the detainees or the process itself. I do not see how that closely examines a very important issue.

Then I read this.
Compelling evidence that Canadian-transferred detainees are still being tortured in Afghan prisons emerged Monday from the government's own follow-up inspection reports, documents it has long tried to keep secret.
Unlike the endless denials of this government and their supporters, it seems pretty clear that torture is going on and this government has needlessly put our troops at risk.
In one harrowing account, an Afghan turned over by Canadian soldiers told of being beaten unconscious and tortured in the secret police prison in Kandahar. He showed Canadian diplomats fresh welts and then backed up his story by revealing where the electrical cable and the rubber hose that had been used on him were hidden.

“Under the chair we found a large piece of braided electrical cable as well as a rubber hose,” reads the subsequent diplomatic cable marked “secret” and distributed to some of the most senior officials in the Canadian government and officers in the Canadian military.
The Globe and Mail has established that the report of the case is recent, written after a Nov. 5, 2007, inspection of the National Directorate of Security prison in Kandahar. That was six months after a supposedly improved transfer agreement was put in place to monitor detainee treatment. The agreement was designed to address problems raised by critics about the ill treatment of prisoners taken by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and handed over to Afghan authorities with insufficient follow-up.
Then tonight, Mike Duffy reported that the government ordered the end of transfers of detainees in November 2007. Here is the story. Here is an interesting quote:
"It is unfortunate that the Government has chosen, yet again, to reveal new developments on detainees only when an injunction hearing is pending. The Canadian public has a right to know this information and shouldn't be hearing about it only because the government is being sued."
What a pathetic bunch this government is. I'm obviously thrilled that they took the action they did, but just how many have been tortured? Tortured as Harper, MacKay, O'Connor and the shrieking Guergis stood in the House of Commons defending their ideology and calling the opposition Taliban defenders, etc.
The Liberals were right to ask the questions they did and one would hope that this revelation at the very least ends the idiotic rhetoric coming from the right. This government chose to ignore valid and in my opinion, obvious concerns. The article speaks to the reputation of our men and women stationed in Afghanistan and to see in black and white, the party who claims to have the sole right to defend them actually had no regard for them at all in this case, is pretty telling.
What will be done with the detainees? That will be interesting to see.
So, back to the Manley report. One has to ask if this is a group commissioned to seriously examine the success of our mission, how could they have missed this? The front line military component is what is in dispute in Canada and part of that includes taking prisoners and transferring them. It seems to me that this should have been a priority.
I'll just quickly say that I am disturbed by all the Kudo's this report seems to be receiving. I did read it and frankly, I saw nothing new. As I noted on my last post, Scott Ross took note of how Manley seemed to rely on his previous writing to provide some content to the report. I also look at what Paddy Ashdown has said and see a repetition of obvious facts. Senlis, the Red Cross, numerous groups have made all these points for some time. That list does not exclude the Liberals. Indeed the report took some of what Dion submitted to the government and the panel and included it in it's findings.
So to me, this is little more than a consolidation of views that have been out there for a long time. Bloggers of course cut and paste, but the panel's mission was to gather "real time" facts and to be independent. That would mean ignoring conventional wisdom and previously cited views and looking at this from the beginning. That does not appear to have happened here.
Meanwhile, here's what is going on now in Afghanistan.
A reality check is needed and the panel has not given us that, in my view.

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