Monday, December 14, 2009

Rosie DiManno Got It Right

In May 2006 DiManno wrote:
The more pertinent question is why Canadian troops are handing over suspects to Afghan military commanders and their intelligence services when everybody knows that one of two things will likely happen Either the suspects will be let go, out of tribal and ethnic sympathies (the "get out of jail free card," as one exasperated Canadian major in Afghanistan put it to me last month), probably to redouble insurgency efforts, or, alternately, if their intelligence value is deemed to be sufficiently high, those prisoners will disappear into a black hole of injustice, somewhere inside Afghanistan's miserable jail system, never to be heard from again, subjected to who knows what tortures.

Canada quietly made that agreement with the Afghan government in a bilateral treaty signed last December, the thrust of which was to avoid handing over captured prisoners to the Americans because Canadians do not run their own military jails. Assuredly, some American soldiers, particularly military interrogators, disgraced themselves, and their country, by the indignities and even lethal treatment inflicted on captives in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But so out of proportion to reality have these dismal incidents become - so exaggerated the scathing indictment of all U.S. troops, and America itself - that political optics now demand Canada abandon prisoners to the tender mercies of Afghan authorities instead, even though that country has no judicial institutions to speak of, no prisoner oversight system and a deeply ingrained culture of vengeance.

I'm not attacking Afghans, whom I admire. Their practices have always worked for them. They shouldn't work for us.

Canada, unlike the Dutch, did not even build into their prisoner transfer treaty assurances that humanitarian agencies such as the Red Cross monitor the treatment of these captives. And that makes us culpable in whatever harm befalls them. From: Military tries to massage message May 15, 2006
So, a few in the media anyway were giving warnings (but not in any sustained way). It is clear, at least to me that they were merely repeating what was common knowledge by everyone involved in the Afghan mission. Protests of "We didn't know" from the government are ludicrous on their face.
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