Wednesday, April 13, 2011

harpercon Candidate in Ajax-Pickering

He's Chris Alexander, and he was once Canada's Ambassador to Afghanistan. And he says that the detainee controversy was overblown. Why does he think that? Check out this logic:
Canadian soldiers never knowingly handed detainees over to a high risk of torture though he admitted the Afghan system was rife with abuse.
Um, ... right. We know "the system is rife with abuse" but when we gave that system prisoners, we didn't do it in the knowledge that they'd be abused. See, is it just me, or does that sentence not make sense? I mean, do those sentences not make sense? I mean, is Chris Alexander talking crazy here?
“I don’t think any Canadian ever handed over a detainee knowing there was a high risk (of torture) because anyone handed over by Canada — as the record shows — was going to be tracked through the system, was going to be monitored more than other detainees would. As a UN official, I was much more worried about people who were being detained by the Afghans or other countries that weren’t as careful as we were.”
Well, see Chris, not only are your sentences self-contradicting, your facts are wrong. In 2007 it turned out that we'd lost track of 50 out of the 200 prisoners we'd taken. It was apparently standard operating procedure to get rid of Afghan detainees as soon as possible so as to be able to avoid any responsibility for them:

The one guaranteed way you could make a hard-bitten Canadian duty officer blanch was to tell him that an Afghan had been taken into Canadian custody, as opposed to Afghan custody, with all the extra work THAT entailed.
In practice, the situation was avoided whenever humanly possible. Instead in late 2008 and early 2009, most detainee responsibilities were invariably handed off by Canadians to the closest thing to an Afghan authority figure that they could find nearby: police, Afghan army, a passing civilian district leader... -- who was encouraged to take over that responsibility right at the point and time of capture. Any remedy to avoid the appearance of taking them into our national custody for even a minute was pursued. Only working "jointly" with Afghans in this way would have allowed the pro-Government forces as a whole to collect detainees when they had to without triggering those national reporting and followup requirements. (It had other potential advantages from an Afghan capacity-building and national sovereignty point of view, too, obviously.)*
Intelligence value or circumstances of capture could not serve as a consideration in which country took possession; there was no time, really. If Canadians took people into our custody long enough to figure out who they were authoritatively on our own, well, we'd have just made them Canadian detainees by default, regardless of how that inquiry then turned out.

And, finally, it turned out that Canada's harpercon Minister of Defence was either clueless or lying when he said that he thought the Red Cross was keeping track of those few detainees we weren't able to fob off on the first Afghan official to come along:
At the center of the Afghan Detainee Abuse Scandal was former Defense Minister, Gordon O'Connor. In statements before the House of Commons in February 2007, O'Connor claimed that the International Red Cross was responsible for the monitoring of prisoners held in Afghanistan, and that "if there is something wrong with their treatment, the Red Cross or Red Crescent would inform us and we would take action."
Soon after, the Red Cross responded that it was not party to the agreement between Canada and Afghanistan, and that it would not inform any foreign government of its discoveries.
There were all sorts of complaints about Canada's cavalier attitude about monitoring prisoners:

September 26, 2006: Ministers O’Connor, MacKay and Day meet with the head of the ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger. Red Cross sources in Geneva have said that the meeting was called so the ICRC could directly inform senior Canadian officials of its growing frustration about delays surrounding the notification of detainee transfers.
But do go on Mr. Chris Alexander, harpercon candidate for Ajax-Pickering:
“Of course Afghan institutions are weak still. Of course there have been mistakes and abuses, if not injustice across the board. Read any human rights report on Afghanistan,” Alexander said. “I’m just sad that we, in Canada, allowed this issue — which was really fuelled by partisanship on both sides — to dominate, almost to the exclusion of everything else, our debate over Afghanistan for the better part of a year.”
Well, see Chris, it's like this; as Richard Colvin said, "You know the NDS tortures people. That's what they do," Colvin told the officials in attendance. "And if we don't want our detainees tortured we shouldn't give them to the NDS." Now, what that means, ... hmm. Better start at the beginning.
When Canada first stupidly got involved in this nightmare, we were handing our prisoners over to the USA. Anyone who said that the USA tortured people was an anti-American commie, terrorist sympathizer and fuck 'em! Then, it turned out that the USA was torturing innocent people to death at Bagram airbase. Oops. So, we turned our prisoners over to the bloodthirsty warlords under a shitty agreement signed by Rick "shit-head" Hillier in 2005. Then, the harpercons took power in 2006, the torture continued, everybody was lying and covering their asses and committing war crimes and that's where we are today. A couple other countries offered to go in on a NATO-controlled prison system, but we pointedly turned them down.
And, the sad thing, for a stupid monster like stephen harper that is, he really didn't process it at the time. harper, if you didn't want to go to jail as a war criminal, you should have done whatever was necessary to comply with international law. But you're going to go to jail because you didn't. Because whether some Afghan peasants' lives were destroyed by being tortured and raped wasn't all that important to you and you have a debased view of the world, you allowed this to happen and left yourself open to war crimes charges.
Mein gott! I've just re-read Alexander's last words again!
Of course Afghan institutions are weak still. Of course there have been mistakes and abuses, if not injustice across the board. Read any human rights report on Afghanistan,” Alexander said.
Of course there is no oversight over individual criminals in Afghanistan's institutions! Of course there's no rule of law there! Of course there are mistakes and ABUSES ACROSS THE BOARD! But you can't expect that anything BAD happened because of that, right? Right?
It's enough to make a sane man weep!!
He said when he returned to Canada in 2009, he was more concerned with “bigger issues” such as the U.S. military surge, the “lack of international support, Afghani performance on governance issues in Afghanistan, corruption issues, and the whole overriding issue of … Pakistan army’s role in this conflict.
Hah! I like how they put that in quotation marks: "bigger issues." Look dipshit; it's a BIG ISSUE whether or not innocent people were turned over to be tortured and raped. It doesn't get any bigger than that. "Look! I'm sorry that I sent a child-molester to babysit your kids! Whatever. If you've been hurt by any of the events subsequent to that, I apologize. But I've got a lot of IMPORTANT stuff on my plate these days, and I've learned not to sweat the small stuff."

Do these pieces of shit even listen to themselves??
“And I arrive back in Canada which is talking about a couple of detainee issues in Kandahar. We’ve lost our sense of proportion …. To the extent this is still a headline, I think we still have,”
A couple of things? Well, that's all that's been able to leak out, what with harper's abuses of "national security" and all. But if you read the honest, non-whistle-blower, believes in the rule-of-law kinda guy, Richard Colvin, EVERY SINGLE PERSON WE TOOK TEMPORARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR AND TURNED OVER TO THE NDS HAS BEEN TORTURED.

EVERY SINGLE ONE.

So damn you Christopher Alexander, you piece of shit.

(Oh, and, by the way, Chrissy-wissy, ... I'll take the word of Richard Colvin over that of a piece of shit like you any day.)

You know people, writing this post has saddened me, what with how low our country has sunk. A lot of the scuzzy stuff we've done, we lied about it. We said that we didn't do it. But this torture in Afghanistan, ... everyone knows that we did it. Half of us think that torture is just what you do in "war." The other 45% don't give a shit one way or the other. Fuck this country.

What? Is a piece of shit like John Ibbitson going to call me "un-Canadian" for that one?

But then, I hear something that I like ....
Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae and the NDP’s Jack Harris slammed Alexander’s late entry into the debate.
Harris said if Alexander has grounds to contradict Colvin, he “had an obligation to come forward” before now. “They want to bury it with opinion and innuendo; they don’t want the facts to come to light. The fact was Canada had no ability to track” the Afghan detainees, said Harris.
Fuckin'-A. I left out Bob Rae's twaddle, because it was the sort of Liberal mewling that made him a disaster as an Ontario premier. The Liberals stupidly dragged us into Afghanistan and gave harper all the help he needed to get his war on, even going so far as to construct a villain's agreement to get harper's extension of our "training mission" (training the Afghan military to be more effective rapists and murderers) through Parliament without a hitch.
Colvin put his career on the line as an act of principle. If Alexander has something besides self-contradiction and bullshit, let's subject it to some scrutiny. When the question is whether or not Canada is an accessory to torture, you don't get to hide in the shadows and then make some self-serving, bullshit, "look at me, I'm an asshole" statement and expect to get it accepted at face-value.

Typing all this shit is a trip down memory lane for me. Looking over all my old posts, all the old articles, blog entries, ... I think I'll let Alison have the last word:
 
It's funny the things that stick with you.
What I remember when Canada's treatment of Afghan prisoners comes up is not Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin's 2007 report on allegations of electrocution and beatings, or the entire households detained because someone got the address wrong. What I remember is this simple request for desert camel boots made by Stockwell Day's newly arrived leader of the Correctional Service Canada inspections team in February 2007 :
"They afford the appropriate ankle support when getting in and out of the LAV/Coyote/Nyala vehicles. Additionally the colour is more appropriate in the summer heat. On a Health and Safety level we will be walking through blood and fecal matter when either on patrol or in the prison and should not be wearing our personal footwear as it will track into our personal quarters."
As Skdadl said at the time :
"I think we call this the banality of evil. I have to walk through blood and fecal material, so I need better boots. This is the road to Nuremberg, folks. And this is being done in our name. Everyone happy to sit here quietly and be a "Good Canadian"? "
Richard Colvin wasn't. As political director at the Canadian-run provincial reconstruction base in 2006 when troops began handing over prisoners to Afghanistan's notorious intelligence agency, the National Security Directorate, he is one of the only government witnesses who wants to testify at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into whether military police officers had a duty to investigate the transfer of detainees when there were allegations of torture in Afghan prisons.
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A week ago federal lawyers invoked a national security clause in Canada's Anti-terrorism Act that effectively prevents him from doing so.
They argue that on the one hand Colvin's testimony is not relevant, and on the other that his testimony would breach "national security considerations".
As we have seen previously with Arar, Abdelrazik, Almalki, Suaad Mohammud, Charkaoui, and Harkat, this is a government that flagrantly makes use of "national security considerations" to cover its own complicity in wrongdoing.
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Last Wednesday National Defence said some witnesses might be able to give some information, as long as the commission proves the testimony is relevant. This is impossible for the commission to do as Michel Gauthier, the retired lieutenant-general who was in charge of the country's overseas command until last spring, as well as three former ground commanders in Kandahar and members of Corrections Canada have all refused their subpoenas to meet with commission investigators.
.
A week ago Canada's former top military police officer, retired navy captain Steve Moore, advised he had documents that he wanted to turn over to the inquiry, however Mr. Moore and his lawyer had to sign a pledge preventing them from passing the documents to the inquiry.
The documents first have to be reviewed to remove sensitive information– such as logs showing that Canadian military police opened investigations into whether detainees risked torture – but won't be declassified in time for the hearings.
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As if this wasn't sufficient obstruction, the chair of the inquiry, Peter Tinsley, has been let go on Dec 11, before his investigation can be completed and despite his request to be allowed to continue. Then on Monday public proceedings were postponed :
"after federal lawyers bombarded the agency with a series of motions demanding further delay and questioning, among other things, the jurisdiction of the commission".
MacKay told the House of Commons on Monday that "a search for a new chair is underway".
.
Isn't this exactly what was done at Guantanamo? If the government didn't like the way a military investigation into the detainment of an individual prisoner was going, they just fired the presiding judge or lawyer and appointed another.
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Last word goes to Richard Colvin's lawyer on the use of Canada's Anti-terrorism Act to muzzle her client :
"The legislation was addressed at combatting terrorism-related activities. It was not intended to be used tactically to intimidate witnesses from giving evidence in administrative proceedings carried out by government-created bodies," the letter said.
"The interests of justice are not served when an ordinary witness such as Mr. Colvin is threatened by the Department of Justice with severe penalty for abiding by the terms of a subpoena served on him.".
Update : Good short history of a year's worth of sidelining the investigation : Dr. Dawg.

4 comments:

Socially Active said...

2) Proroguing Parliament Dec 30, 2009 to interrupt and inhibit investigation into routine torture and abuse in Afghanistan.

Having ratified the Geneva Convention, Canada incorporated its principles into domestic law through the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

Evidence presented by Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin indicates that Canadian officials were aware that prisoners handed over to Afghani officials were being tortured. Richard Colvin believes Canada's complicity in torture undermined the efforts and goals of the strategy in Kandahar. "Instead of winning hearts and minds, we caused Kandaharis to fear the foreigners. Canada's detainee practices alienated us from the population and strengthened the insurgency."

Mr. Colvin wasn't the only foreign service officer relaying criticisms about detainee transfers to Ottawa. A Sept. 11, 2006, memo from a Canadian NATO staffer alerted the government to the fact that the ICRC had singled out Canada's practice of handing over prisoners to the Afghans on the battlefield, a practice it feared could result in human-rights monitors losing track of detainees.

It was also revealed that in 2007, Canadian diplomats in Afghanistan were ordered omit information regarding the treatment of detainees in reports sent to Ottawa.

I whole hearty supported Canada's mission to bring to bring good governance to Afghan. Only through good governance could win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people required for stability and lasting peace. With reduced corruption the Afghan government would be more able to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people and police itself.

In effect the act of routing out corruption within the Afghan government and justice system required to prevent torture would have met Canada would have fulfilled its mission to bring good governance relatively free of corruption to Afghanistan.

The decision to mostly ignore the torture and other corruption has been a strategic blunder. We have wasted what was probably our only chance to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan and reduce the threat of terrorist who feed on the misery and corruption.

Complicity in torture is a war crime and reason enough to deny Canada a United Nations set.

Do you personally supports parliament's legal right to full access to information required to investigate?
Do you personally support international monitoring of an investigation with power to rectify?

Socially Active said...

I sent that last night and I KNOW he received it.

thwap said...

Prison for harper.

Anonymous said...

In addition to all you say here, Mr. Alexander's own words condemn him: "a high risk of torture" is not the standard that determines whether or not detainees may be handed over.