Sunday, November 18, 2007

Peter MacKay: we'd tell you, but then we'd have to kill you

Papa knows best, Canadians. Don't worry your pretty little heads about torture in Afghanistan. Junior's got it all under control. Junior told us so on Saturday while responding to the horrendous truths that are unravelling his government's precious web of p.r. and demonstrating what liars they are. In a nutshell, we're not entitled to truth from our government on the condition of Afghan detainees because it's all a matter of operational details that might hurt our troops. Huh? What does ensuring detainees are not being tortured have to do with very particular battleground details?
The Liberals say the government lied last April when it downplayed and even denied the existence of reports that Afghan authorities were torturing prisoners captured by Canadian soldiers.

Court records show the government received detailed accounts of the alleged abuse 48 hours after the claims first appeared in media reports.

But MacKay said accusations that the government tried to cover up what it knew are "simply untrue," and said some information would have been dangerous to make public.

"There are certain elements of transfers - particularly around where Taliban have been captured - that are very sensitive as far as operational detail, that could ...put Canadians soldiers' lives at danger," MacKay said following a funding announcement in Halifax.

"So, there are certain aspects of disclosure around where and when and how detainees were captured that we do not release in the middle of an operation."
The two favorite post 9/11 Bush administration rationales for government secrecy, invoking the troops and national security, being whipped out by MacKay to circumscribe any questions. Where, when and how detainees are captured have nothing to do with whether they are being tortured once handed over and in Afghan prisons. There are ways of ensuring that information is provided to the Canadian public so that we are assured that our government is doing the right thing. That is, living up to our obligations under the Geneva Conventions and ensuring that prisoners handed over by us are not tortured. We should not have to rely on public interest groups to sue our federal government for the information to be provided to us. It's really not a good look for the Conservatives yet they continue to instinctually hide information. It's chronic with these guys.

MacKay went on to say this:
MacKay insisted the government has been forthcoming with its efforts to improve the transfer of detainees amid the allegations, which he noted have not been proven.

"This is in the al-Qaida and the Taliban handbook - they're expected to make allegations," said MacKay. "What we did was the responsible thing in calling for an investigation to look into these matters."
Apparently in Junior's book, blood and fecal matter on prison floors that causes Canadian inspectors to request new boots constitutes an allegation. Perhaps in Junior's mind, such treatment is being dealt out only to the average Afghan detainee, not the ones handed over by Canadians. Dream on.

And did you notice how Al Qaeda's suddenly making an entrance into MacKay's language on the detainee issue. Now Junior's thrown in Al Qaeda here, likely to suggest to Canadians that there should be no consideration of any kind for such prisoners. Which is completely beside the point anyway. It doesn't matter who the prisoners are, Taliban, Al Qaeda, pillaging Huns. They all need to be treated according to the Geneva Conventions because that's what we do, that's who WE are.

Recall from the Globe report this little problematic tale from Junior showing that he was right in the middle of the p.r. lie-fest on Afghanistan:
"We now have a much greater ability to track the detainees to ensure the standards that are expected are being met," Peter MacKay, then foreign minister, said on June 6. "The Afghans themselves, of course, clearly understand the expectations when it comes to detainees who were turned over by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. They will not only ensure that we know about their whereabouts, but their treatment will conform with international standards, the standards we have clearly set out." That stands in sharp contrast to what was being reported by Canadian diplomats, military officers and corrections officers actually charged with the follow-up monitoring.

Five days earlier, on June 1, diplomats struggling to cope with NDS record-keeping reported that some detainees are listed as being "released about three months before they are arrested," while for others there was no record "of these detainee names anywhere on our spreadsheet." (emphasis added)
No wonder he's so upset with this information becoming public. Makes him look pretty bad.

These guys have shown their incompetence on this file. They're not "standing up for Canada" in the least. They're making us an international embarrassment by turning back the clock on our reputation as a nation that respects human rights, is tolerant, law abiding and peaceful. Now we're turning a blind eye to torture, shrugging our shoulders as we flout international law and longstanding conventions of war.

Yes, it's quite a record they're building.