Canadian Conservatives in trouble about flip-flops on Afghan torture scandal

This video says about itself:

Transferring to Torture: Canada, Human Rights, and Detainees.

Professor Micheal Byers analyzes the role of the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, and how it violated the Geneva Convention against torture.

From the Canadian Press:

Tories meet behind closed doors amid possible scandal over Afghan prisoners

January 26, 2008

– Facing a possible scandal over the handling of Afghan prisoners, federal Conservatives are meeting behind closed-doors in Ottawa to plot strategy for the resumption of Parliament.

The opposition charges the government covered up news that Canadian troops have stopped transferring Taliban prisoners to Afghan authorities for almost three months.

The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois say the Tories were embarrassed after discovering that a prisoner had been tortured, the way critics had been warning.

A senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at first claimed the military hadn’t told the government, but then backed away from those comments.

See also here.

And here.

British plans to arm Afghan militias reignite tensions with US: here.

16 thoughts on “Canadian Conservatives in trouble about flip-flops on Afghan torture scandal

  1. Afghanistan — the next disaster

    By Saul Landau

    After six plus years, the war in Afghanistan drags on. The media
    occasionally cites casualties, but if it doesn’t involve National Football
    League veteran Pat Tillman’s execution by his own comrades, Afghanistan
    gets sparse attention. A few stories feature the growing number of Afghan
    and Iraq War vets on American streets. But the aspiring candidates ignore
    such “blowback.” Instead, they demonstrate verbal aggression, a
    characteristic thought necessary for victory. “We’ve got to get the job done
    there [Afghanistan],” Barack Obama asserted without specifying what the
    “job” is. (AP, Aug 14, 2007)
    > >
    Obama called for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and sending them to “the
    right battlefield,” Afghanistan and Pakistan. To pressure Pakistani
    President Pervez Musharraf to act against terrorist training camps, Obama
    would use military force — if he became President — against those
    “terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans.”
    (Bloomberg, Aug 1, 2007)

    In mid January, Bush dispatched 3,200 additional marines to Afghanistan.
    Curiously, the uncurious media didn’t ask why U.S. and NATO forces continue
    to fight there. Nation Building? With little or no budget for
    reconstructing the country?

    Junior partners, the British leaders, haven’t learned lessons any better
    than their Yankee counterparts (Om maar niet te spreken over de
    onbelangrijke Nederlandse schoothondjes die ook een kluif willen meepikken,
    wvdk). Defense Minister Des Browne predicted British troops could stay there
    for “decades.” Did he not learn that from 1839 to 1842 British troops
    fought in Afghanistan so they could take that sphere away from Russia? Now,
    NATO makes war there, says Browne, to insure that it would not again
    “become a training ground for terrorists threatening Great Britain.”

    In the 19th Century, the British Empire suffered disastrous losses when it
    invaded Afghanistan and erected a puppet regime in Kabul — just as the
    United States did (Hamid Karzai) after Bush’s 2001 invasion. The puppet fell
    quickly when the British could not quell resistance. By 1842, Afghan mobs
    attacked Englishmen who remained in Kabul. The British army retreated
    toward India, its officers believing they had negotiated safe passage.
    Afghan “insurgents” slaughtered some 16,000 English soldiers.

    In 2001, the British and other NATO forces marched in to capture or kill
    Osama Bin Laden and overthrow the Taliban. Six plus years later, Bin Laden
    remains hidden — probably in Pakistan — and the Taliban have returned to
    Afghanistan to mount a major insurgency in areas they once controlled. In
    addition, Afghani farmers have produced bumper opium crops that end up as
    heroin in western cities and profits for the Taliban leaders who tax the
    growers. Like its British-backed predecessor, the U.S. puppet government in
    Kabul controls virtually no territory.

    Browne omitted that terrorists have found training grounds elsewhere — in
    English cities, for example, and on the web. They can buy from hardware or
    agricultural stores — lest anyone forget where the Christian Oklahoma
    bombers (pre 9/11) got their explosives. The U.S. army provided training to
    Timothy McVeigh, convicted and executed for his role in the Oklahoma City
    explosion. Those bombers didn’t need Afghanistan; nor did the fiends who
    blasted the Madrid train station, or the killers who hit the London
    underground. European and U.S. cities offer ample meeting places and the
    U.S. and British armed forces have taught hundreds of thousands of young
    men and women to kill with efficiency.

    The Russians had also failed to grasp lessons of fighting a people
    determined to resist. Approximately 15,000 Red Army soldiers died from
    1979 until 1988 when the Soviets withdrew. The humiliation speeded the
    implosion of the Soviet Union.

    Bush ignored these facts as well as centuries of experience when he ordered
    the invasion of Afghanistan. Indeed, the lack of success in Afghanistan has
    not stopped the major presidential candidates from pledging to stay the
    course there. Wars of choice in Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq have shown that
    Americans and their European junior partners don’t easily tolerate taking
    casualties abroad, especially in wars their leaders cannot
    successfully explain.

    The overwhelming sentiment against Iraq will turn to Afghanistan as
    casualty rates continue or accelerate. Yes, the Taliban government harbored
    Bin Laden and offered training to would-be militants but, ask millions of
    people, which country supplied the funds for the Taliban takeover of
    Afghanistan? Saudi Arabia, our dear and loyal ally! Who paid for the
    madrasas (religious schools) where the young Afghan boys and teens learned
    their religious ideology — including beating an effigy of George Bush I —
    and got military training?

    Pakistan — another ally — not only hosted the madrasas, but offered Bin
    Laden and gang ample protection before and after 9/11. Bush chose to hit
    Afghanistan and Iraq, countries whose involvement was secondary or
    non-existent. No major candidate addresses this issue. The press screams
    the question every day — through its silence.

    As additional U.S. marines land they will discover in Afghanistan that the
    old tribal forces continue to struggle for power. The largest, the Pashtuns,
    have shown sympathy to the Taliban. Some tribal leaders or their fathers
    received CIA aid during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. They used none
    of it to build the country, but rather fought with each other in the post
    Soviet era and made it possible for the Taliban to enter and take control.

    Key Pakistani generals promoted the Taliban in the early 1990s, and their
    zealous brand of Islam spread deeply inside their country, including within
    military and intelligence circles. When assassins struck Benazir Bhutto on
    December 27, they delivered a severe body blow to secular government.

    The tribal forces unleashed by “Charlie Wilson’s War (it was really Ronald
    Reagan’s and CIA Chief William Casey’s war to weaken the Soviet Union) had
    no interest in changing Afghanistan into a modern democracy; another
    dependable cog in the big wheel of corporate globalization.

    Bush’s neo con advisers, however, threw “democracy” at the public much as
    TV preachers intone Jesus while offering to cure their flock’s ailment with
    a little pressure from silver-crossed palms blessed by God. They had no
    plans to transform this ancient land and people into poorer carbon copies of

    Afghans have proved more resistant to Western efforts to change their old
    life into one of a consumer society than new bacteria are to antibiotics.
    William Pfaff in an excellent January 16 column quotes Rory Stewart, head
    of the Turquois Mountain Foundation in Kabul. The United States and its
    western allies “should accept that we don’t have the power, knowledge or
    legitimacy to change those societies.”

    Stewart noted that “War has eroded social structures and entrenched ethnic
    suspicion….Power is in the hands of tribal leaders and militia commanders.
    Much of Afghanistan is barren and most people cannot read or write….The
    local population is at best suspicious of our actions.” Stewart claimed
    that in at least one province, Helmand, “…it is more dangerous for
    foreign civilians than it was two years ago before we deployed our troops.”
    (Jan. 16, 2008, Tribune Media Services) Bush’s argument relies on fear, not
    fact. If the Taliban retakes control, the West would be threatened.

    The Taliban will remain after the West grows weary of this enigmatic war.
    Paddy Ashdown, the UN’s new envoy to Afghanistan, warned: “We are losing in
    Afghanistan — and rather than militarily, we are losing the political
    mission — and in large part we are losing because there has been a
    complete failure of the international community to co-ordinate its efforts.”

    That failure, he continued “relies on the fact that we believe, for some
    bizarre reason, that we have such a unique system of government in our own
    countries – by the way, not a view shared by many of our citizens – that we
    believe we have a right to impose it lock, stock and barrel, along with
    the values and everything that goes along with it, on other countries with
    the use of B-52s, tanks and rifles.” (Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail,
    January 17, 2008)

    Little thought or planning preceded Bush’s order to invade and occupy
    Afghanistan. The war makers assumed their traditional omnipotence, that
    from noble intentions (or rhetoric) a stable and prosperous nation would
    somehow develop. It didn’t happen, but the Taliban returned, and gained
    strength and confidence. Bush responds by dispatching more US forces,
    already overstretched and overstressed, to bring force into a place where it
    has traditionally proven ineffective.

    Before the next appropriation, Members of Congress and the media might read
    a few verses of Rudyard Kipling on older wars in that region:

    > > “And after-ask the Yusufzaies
    > > What comes of all our ‘ologies.
    > >
    > > A scrimmage in a Border Station-
    > > A canter down some dark defile-
    > > Two thousand pounds of education
    > > Drops to a ten-rupee jezail-
    > > No proposition Euclid wrote,
    > > No formulae the text-books know,
    > > Will turn the bullet from your coat,
    > > Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow
    > > Strike hard who cares-shoot straight who can-
    > > The odds are on the cheaper man.” (“Arithmetic on the Frontier”)

    Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies Fellow and author of A BUSH
    AND BOTOX WORLD. His new film, WE DON’T PLAY GOLF HERE is available on DVD


  2. Friday, February 01, 2008 4:59 AM

    The Globe and Mail says the Canadian government tried to keep secret the alleged involvement of the governor of Kandahar in the torture and abuse of Afghan prisoners.

    The newspaper says allegations against Governor Asadullah Khalid were reported to senior officials in Ottawa last spring.

    The paper says documents released by Ottawa concerning the probe of alleged prisoner abuse were edited to remove all references to the Kandahar governor.


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