Friday, February 01, 2008

Good morning Steve. Today in Parliament you will be asked to explain...

Why you kept secret a report by Canadian officials that the Governor of Kandahar not only permitted torture but actually engaged in it himself - in his own private prisons.

The opposition will demand to know how long you have been sitting on this knowledge and why you consistently denied being in possession of any evidence of torture by Afghan authorities.
The Harper government knew, but tried to keep secret since last spring, allegations that the governor of Kandahar was personally involved in torture and abuse of detainees.

The allegations against Governor Asadullah Khalid, appointed directly by President Hamid Karzai and a key political partner to Canada's nation-building efforts in southern Afghanistan, were regarded as sufficiently credible that senior officials in Ottawa were immediately informed and Canadian diplomats secretly reported them to the International Red Cross and Afghanistan's main human-rights group.

Government documents detailing the accusations were heavily censored by the government which, claiming national security, blacked out the references to “the governor.” But multiple sources, both inside and outside the government, confirm that the words “the governor” have been censored as have whole passages referring to secret cells allegedly run by Mr. Khalid outside the official prison system.

Rumours have long linked Mr. Khalid to secret prisons. That he had close ties with U.S. intelligence agents and special forces had been known since Canadian troops arrived in southern Afghanistan in early 2006. But Ottawa didn't confront an accusation of the governor's direct involvement in the interrogation and torture of prisoners until it sent diplomats to inspect the main secret police prison in Kandahar on April 25, 2007.

Since April, 2007.

Allow me to speculate. Despite the ridiculous assertion that the conduct of the Governor of Kandahar has anything to do with national security, if this had been fully revealed when the Harper government first learned of it, the support in Canada for "the mission" would have plummeted.

Further, there is the issue of knowingly handing over prisoners of war to an authority we knew or strongly suspected of engaging in abuse or torture. It is a war crime.

The report by Canadian authorities to the International Committee of the Red Cross is here. The visit reports are here. Part1 and Part 2.

Impolitical compares the exposure of this information with your performance in Parliament yesterday, Steve. We're all wondering who Sandra Buckler is going to lie about today. Who is she going to blame?

So, Steve, we'll expect an explanation. A full explanation. Along with it you might want to reveal what strategic vision you hold for the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, whether that vision can realistically be accomplished and what kind of timeline the strategic plan has produced.

Alison has yesterday's bob & weave session. What's becoming completely clear is that when the Harperites actually have an answer to a question, one which might result in a shift in Canadian opinion, they immediately become "oh so proud" of the boots on the ground. And they shift the focus onto those people.

What you and your dilettantes don't seem to get, Steve, is that in order for Canadians to decide whether there is any chance of success in a place like Afghanistan we need as much information as we can get. And you guys are guilty of trying to withhold it.

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