Monday, December 14, 2009

Talk About Explaining

On Saturday, Christie Blatchford wrote:
I spent a good part of 2006 in Kandahar - three tours of between four to six weeks each in about 10 months, with another tour in '07 - as an embedded reporter, which means I traveled with Canadian troops. I counted on them to keep my ass safe, and they did. I liked them hugely. The experience was one of the most significant of my life (if not on a par with the drama of being, say, in a budget lockup) and I treasure every minute of it. I made some lifelong friends, and I love some of these men.
Yesterday it was reported that Richard Colvin wrote in 2007, about Asadullah Khalid :
"He runs at least one private detention facility, at which he personally has tortured detainees. ... His record is well known in Kandahar, including among the Canadian press corps."
If you put the two quotes together, they open some interesting avenues of questioning. The MSM needs to explain why, if this was common knowledge "among the Canadian press corps", its reporters were silent in 2006?

Update: To be fair, Paul Koring started ringing alarm bells about torture in general, as far back as March 2006.

Update 2:
What is interesting is in Koring's March 2006 article, public warnings were being issued about our crappy agreement with the Afghan government. It is the first instance I can find where someone mentions that Canada might be complicit in torture. It is also interesting to note Hillier's response.
Among the most glaring differences between the two agreements is that the Dutch government insists on the right to follow, monitor and visit detainees it hands over to Afghan authorities.

Dutch military officers and diplomats can check up on the condition of anyone originally captured by Dutch troops.

No such provision appears in the Canadian "arrangement," as it is officially described.

"The Dutch agreement is written to genuinely protect detainees; the Canadian agreement is written with the clear intention of laundering them," said Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, who believes that Canada may be complicit in the torture or abuse of detainees by handing them over without sufficient safeguards to the Afghan military.

The Canadian "arrangement" -- a two-page, 13-clause document signed Dec. 18 in Kabul by Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier -- includes no provision for Canadian officials to check up on what happens to detainees once they are handed over.

It does require that the International Committee of the Red Cross has that right.

Gen. Hillier, who signed the arrangement "for the minister of defence" has defended handing detainees over to Kabul's military and police as an important part of Canada's nation-building effort in Afghanistan.
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