Those naive Canadians who believe that the Harper Government and the Bush Government operate differently, better start paying attention to what is going on.
What is happening in Afghanistan with respect to our military operations as they deal with suspected Taliban detainees is outrageous and perhaps worse.
By way of review, as has been been widely reported this week by the Globe and Mail, our Canadian troops from time to time have detained people suspected of being or helping Taliban fighters. After the detainees are taken into custody by Canada, they are turned over to the Afghanistan authorities. Some of those are handed over to the Afghanistan National Directorate of Security, which is the Intelligence Police. The Canadian military have signed an agreement with the Afghanistan Human Rights Commission wherein the Commission agrees to monitor and report back to the Canadian authorities about any allegations or evidence of torture or other mistreatment while the detainees are in the custody of the Intelligence Police.
Defence Minister O'Connor has stated to the House that he knows of no allegations of torture, and that he has relied on the Human Rights Commission to keep the Canadian military informed pursuant to the Agreement.
The Geneva Convention requires a country that has taken prisoners that are transferred to another authority, must ensure that those prisoners are not abused by that other authority.
The Globe and Mail's in depth look at the situation published this week, indicates that there were 30 suspected Taliban detainees who, once they were under the control of the Intelligence Police, were tortured and mistreated in a host of inhumane ways. Furthermore, the report states that the Human Rights Commission said that it does not have enough staff to monitor what is happening to the detainees. Worse yet, the Intelligence Police refuses to cooperate and allow the Human Rights Commission to investigate.
Many people are aware of this deplorable situation. Defence Minister O'Connor and Prime Minister Harper have both stated to the Commons, that they are not aware of such goings on. The Prime Minister in the House yesterday, said that the allegations of torture were allegations of the Taliban. That is not what the Globe and Mail reported. All of the 30 suspects were ultimately released with no charges filed. Upon their release they told of suffering from torture while in the custody of the Intelligence Police. The Prime Minister said yesterday, ". . . We do not have evidence that [the torture] is true. And certainly I have to say that to suggest the Canadian Forces would deliberately violate the Geneva Convention, and to make that suggestion solely based on the allegations of the Taliban, I think, is the height of irresponsibility."
O''Connor continued his dissembling, Pinnochio-like, wrong-again, performance in the House by saying that the Human Rights Commission, ". . . have confirmed that they can do what we have asked them." In fact, the Globe and Mail discovered that the Human Rights Commission is barred from inspecting detainees held in cells run by the Intelligence Police and are understaffed to properly do their work.
Are Harper and O'Connor stupid, wilfully blind, or stupid liars?
A clue lies in a related story about a written report prepared by Canadian diplomats respecting conditions in Afghanistan. The Report was thought to include information on Human Rights. When inquiries by the Globe and Mail were made about the existence of such a report, the Foreign Affairs Department lied. They said it did not exist.
After complaints were made to the Access to Information Commissioner, Foreign Affairs released the Report. It appeared to have been prepared in 2006 and was entitled "Good Governance, Democratic Development and Human Rights." The produced report had large swaths of it blacked out.
Fortunately, the Globe and Mail got its hands on the full unedited and uncensored report. The two reports were compared - the censored report and the complete report. Among the passages blacked out were the words: "Extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture, and detention without trial are all too common." Another blacked out passage stated "the overall human rights situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2006." Another blacked out passage stated: "military, intelligence and police forces have been accused of involvement in arbitrary arrest, kidnapping, extortion, torture and extrajudicial killing." There were more statements which showed that torture and corruption of the Security forces that had been edited out of the censored report. In fact, the edited, blacked-out version of the report contained only positive news. The full report contained negative passages together with the positive.
The Foreign Affairs Department appeared to have told a whopper when it said originally there was no report. Then it produced a report containing only the good news and censoring the bad -a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.
The actions of our Government in this sordid affair are uncannily akin to the Bush administration practice of tailoring intelligence to support its mindless policies in Iraq, and deliberately misleading his public about torture and mistreatment of prisoners by United States forces in places like Abu Graibh and Guantanamo.
In fact, the Canadian Government at the moment is run by many extremist, neocon, Bush admirers and lackeys. The Prime Minister and Minister of Defence are two of them. They are prepared to mislead, lie, and look the other way about torture and mistreatment of detainees, so that the public swallow their Afghanistan policy. Canadians, when they are finally asked their opinions about this Government at the ballot box, will have it all figured out by then. And this Government will be defeated.