Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The daily Koring leak

Harper's thinking of proroguing parliament? How's he going to "prorogue" the drumbeat of information that's still flowing on the Afghan detainee file? Today's development: "Coalition allies faulted Canada over handling of detainees." It seems like Paul Koring of the Globe has a whole set of the Colvin memos and he's just doling out the details, day by day now. But I guess we'll see.

What we learn today confirms yet again why they don't want the Colvin memos released. Allies were upset with us for not providing information to NATO on detainees Canada was capturing. There were protocols to follow that we, for some reason, did not. There were "strong criticisms" from NATO about what Canada was doing. We were unwilling to be straightforward with NATO. And where did the directive for secrecy come from? Ottawa:
Back then, however, Canada wasn't providing details even to its allies on what happened to the suspects it picked up. That is despite the fact that ISAF, the command structure for the war in Afghanistan, imposes legal and operational requirements aimed at ensuring detainees are looked after, transferred and held in accordance with international law.

Canada's refusal to co-operate with its military allies on the prisoner issue originated at the top of the Canadian defence establishment, according to a Sept. 19, 2006, memo from Mr. Colvin. The diplomat recounted for Ottawa how ISAF political adviser Paul Wyatt told the Canadian embassy that Canada's senior military-police officer in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar fingered his Ottawa superiors as the obstructionists.

"The Canadian provost marshal in Kandahar has told ISAF that he would be pleased to provide the information but that he has received explicit instructions from National Defence Headquarters ... not to do so," Mr. Colvin's memo says.
The Globe report mentions another memo from a Canadian NATO staffer in September, 2006 that:
"...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."
So, we see that Colvin is independently bolstered again in this separate example of notification to the government of problems in detainee transfers. The government's portrayal of Colvin as a lone voice is contradicted once again. These are two separate notifications in 2006 to Ottawa that detainee transfers weren't being handled in accordance with NATO rules. And why would Canada deviate from what other NATO nations were doing, under the rules? Again, the questions have been raised here, where it is reported that Canada engaged in a "...slow dance of bureaucrats that seemed almost designed to leave detainees in the maws of Afghan interrogators for weeks and even months at time before the Red Cross intervened." Read: as at risk for torture.

Another theme we've seen before that is raised in this information too, it's not the military on the ground in Afghanistan that was the issue, it's the top of the chain of command that's singled out here as the cause of failure to give NATO/ISAF the required detainee information.

Drip, drip, drip...