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In light of CBC report, demand full document release now.

This rather explosive allegation was on CBC news last night – that Canadian officials not only knew some Afghan prisoners were being tortured, but they WANTED some of them to be tortured to glean “intelligence” and information out of them:

Federal government documents on Afghan detainees suggest that Canadian officials intended some prisoners to be tortured in order to gather intelligence, according to a legal expert. If the allegation is true, such actions would constitute a war crime, said University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran, who has been digging deep into the issue and told CBC News he has seen uncensored versions of government documents released last year.

“If these documents were released [in full], what they will show is that Canada partnered deliberately with the torturers in Afghanistan for the interrogation of detainees,” he said. “There would be a question of rendition and a question of war crimes on the part of certain Canadian officials. That’s what’s in these documents, and that’s why the government is covering up as hard as it can.”

Further video of that story covered by veteran CBC journalist Terry Milewski can be viewed here.

If this is what is in those documents, it’s little wonder the Harper government has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent these from seeing the light of day. Let’s put this into perspective and review what has been said before; if one studies international law where it pertains to the Geneva Conventions and the handling of prisoners/detainees, you’ll find that it’s against international law for the Conservative government or its civilian/military officials to have turned over prisoners to Afghan authorities if we even SUSPECTED they were going to get tortured (which completely shreds and makes a moot point “the no credible evidence” claim that Defence Minister Peter MacKay and others in the Harper cabinet were spouting off about before Christmas, which was shredded as it was when it turned out Canadian military officials did indeed have credible evidence of torture of at least 1 prisoner). For that matter, it’s against Canadian law to do this.

If it’s now shown Canadian officials not only knew or suspected that Afghan detainees were going to be tortured, but officials hoped they would be tortured to get more “intelligence” out of them, that is an even worse violation of international law/a war crime, and ALSO against Canadian law.

Also, as many have said prior, if the Canadian government refuses to pursue investigations into whether war crimes/violations of international law was committed, then the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor based in the Hague is going to get a lot more involved then he already might be, since the ICC will investigate this if a signatory to the ICC treaty refuses to do so – since they are bound to investigate by the treaty and subject to its terms (and Canada is a signatory to the ICC).

In light of this report, it is incumbent upon the the opposition parties to reject this retired SC judge gambit by the Conservative government as of right now. Demand full disclosure of the unredacted documents as Parliament has ordered, and file the contempt of Parliament point of order/ask for a Speakers Warrant demanding the government produce those documents to Parliament now if it refuses.


18 comments to In light of CBC report, demand full document release now.

  • Anon ABC

    The opposition parties, in deciding whether to accept this latest ploy to defer to the retired Judge, should remember what Harper sang recently (i.e. that he gets by with a little help from his friends, remember?). LOL. If they allow Harper to further delay and obstruct, after he had already suspended Parliament completely, they would have to accept the responsibility of the start of a breakdown in our Parliamentary form of govt.

    It is really quite simple. First, as per JB above, this issue is simply bigger than Libs vs Cons. Second, Harper and his Ministers have clearly gone against a Parliamentary order to produce the unredacted documents and have clearly shown no evidence of changing their minds. If the opposition parties cannot convince Canadians to vote for Parliamentary democracy if an election should ensue, then we deserve to live with the consequences of a Harper majority if that is what entails.

    The opposition parties must go for the documents or bring on the contempt motion.

  • As JB says, it doesn’t matter which party was in power at the time. We want to know what happened… period. If Harper is squeaky clean he would have personally delivered unredacted documents months ago, before he ran from parliament. His actions speak volumes. And Lorraine, you might want to drill considerably deeper. Your take is far too lightweight and appears to have PMO fax dust on it.

    A fact which has come home with a huge number of Canadian Afghanistan theatre veterans is that “detainee” is a relative term. The Afghan system is so corrupt that those who can afford it are able to bribe their way out the prison gate shortly after handover. That isn’t the peasant farmers. The fact that we are unable to track the location of those we capture and turn over has led to the same bad guys repeating the same activities in the same places which got them captured in the first place.

    Don’t think that won’t appear in documents and that such statements will put the Harper “We (heart} the troops” rhetoric under one ugly microscope.

    But at least the Navy is getting an executive curl back on their uniforms.

  • Dana

    Harper could kill and eat dead babies on live television with their parents wailing in the background and people like Lorraine would find some way to view it positively.

    • Red Forever

      That’s about right D

      Those conservative A-holes are all over the blogasphere today.

      They never address the substance of the issue

      Just drive by smears

      Kinda telling though isn’t it

    • Anon ABC

      Yeah, they would probably claim that Harper has shown Canadians how to be nimble and have a balanced diet. lol

  • Lorraine

    I think the Liberal policy for handling detainees that Paul Martin brought in was proven to be flawed. This was fixed by the Conservatives in the fall of 2006 – less than 6 months after they took over government.
    One might wonder why they were not briefed on this sooner by the outgoing government but then there are many stories about how when the Liberals left there was a lot of , shall we say, sabotage by the public ser4vice whose allegiances were not with the Conservatives.
    Also, the Taliban have said over and over to whoever would listen that they wanted to be sent to American detainee camps instead of Afghan ones because they got better food and real beds to sleep in.
    Maybe Mr. Colvin and Amir Attaran and their ilk are the types to fall for Taliban propaganda. Just a thought.

    • @Lorraine, Get it through your head, Lorraine. This is not a petty partisan LPC vs. CPC issue. It is much bigger than that. If, as you say, the policy was fixed, why is Harper refusing to prove how well the fix worked by releasing the documents?

      Just last December, NGO witnesses told the Afghanistan committee that the current agreement is, in fact, not working. We have not been able to keep track of all of the detainees we have handed over. The government has confirmed that this was the reason we ceased transfers several times since the 2006 agreement came into effect.

      That same “dupe for Taliban propaganda” smear was attempted and later abandoned by MacKay. He tried it and it didn’t fly. Learn from MacKay’s mistakes, at least, and don’t trot out the same specious smear.

      The “ilk” who ought to be concerned are the “ilk” who condone torture. That “ilk” shames real human beings, real Canadians.

    • Red Forever

      You cons just love straw men don’t you?

    • Jim Vincent

      @Lorraine, A moron, no doubt. But let’s face it, if evidence comes forward about the Chretien-Martin governments being implicated in the same sort of things, I expect my Liberal pals to let principle trump party. The Liberals, after all, have a lot to answer for regarding Canada’s intervention in Afghanistan, whether they were in government or in “opposition”.

      • Jon Pertwee

        @Jim Vincent, expect the Liberals to do what your Conbuddies can’t “let principle trump party”. Good to see the double standard is alive and well in Conbot world.

        • Jim Vincent

          @Jon Pertwee, I didn’t know criticizing the Liberals constituted a membership in the Conservative party. Considering I’d never vote Tory, and never have, you really make a complete ass of yourself.

  • @Lorraine
    The Liberals have called for a full judicial inquiry covering the entirety of the Afghan mission. Bill Graham is not in power right now and what the committee is working on is getting documents released so that it can do its work. Once they get those docs, they may well decide to call Bill Graham to testify.

    This is really much bigger than Liberal vs. Conservative partisan posturing. This is about human decency. Torture is evil. Torture is wrong. Torture is illegal. Torture is inhumane. Canada should have absolutely no part in any torture, whatsoever.

    If our government is blameless, they must produce the documents that prove their innocence. If, as appears more and more likely, our government is guilty of breaking Canadian and International law, as well as defying the boundaries of human decency, we have a right and a duty to know. We cannot hold our government accountable if they withhold evidence.

    If there is the slightest possibility that our government has been (or is) complicit in torture in any way, shape or form, it is our duty as Canadians to ensure that this stops and that those responsible for sullying Canada’s reputation be held fully accountable. To do less would be to shirk our duties as Canadian citizens.

  • Al

    @Lorraine Amir Attaran is a naturalized Canadaian citizen
    So much for your poor attempt to smear him.

  • Lorraine

    Attaran said that certain irregularities were alleged to have taken place between 2002-2006. Those were mostloy the Chretien/Martin years.
    Why is the committee not demanding that Chretien/Martin and the former Liberal defence ministers like Bill Graham give evidence of what they knew and when they knew it?

    Hopefull the document demands include those years as well – otherwise this just looks like a partisan witch hunt don’t you think? Consiering that Attaran is not even a Canadian citizen and owes Ignatieff big time for favours rendered when they were both at Harvard.

    • Red Forever

      That is disgusting and vile.

      Conservatives really don’t have any standards do they?

      You are beneath contempt

  • ASME

    This is an aside. It isn’t difficult to understand why the Harper Government wants to sell off the CBC to private broadcasters. This country will be in a sorry mess if CBC is sold. We will not ever get unbiased reports again. Please protest this attempt to let CBC go.

  • MoS

    If Frank Iacabucci was set up to be Stephen Harper’s beard, that ploy is over. When Professor Attaran was speaking to CBC what he was really saying is that the government has lost control of these documents, they’re out. If Iacabucci/Harper try to resist disclosure, they’ll come out anyway. It’s somewhat akin to Daniell Ellsberg and the “Pentagon Papers.” When Washington was still pumping the Vietnam War, Ellsberg – a Pentagon analyst – took a raft of documents to The New York Times. These were studies conducted by the Pentagon that showed the Vietnam war could not be won. Absolutely Top Secret stuff. All that secrecy was utterly irrelevant once the papers made it to the public domain. I’m pretty sure Harper is facing that same dilemma.

    What Attaran’s statments mean is not only was this going on but it was duly recorded and the information conveyed from Kabul to Ottawa, almost certainly to DND and all but certainly to External and on to Parliament Hill.

    I really think Harper has lost control of this. Unfortunately you have Mr. Enhanced Interrogation leading the LPC. It’s hard for me to believe that Michael Ignatieff would have been particularly troubled by this – at least if you can believe what Michael Ignatieff had to say about torture.

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