Thursday, October 15, 2009

Afghan torture cover-up gets a hand from Peter MacKay

[updated below]
Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he never saw reports by Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, then political director at the Canadian-run Afghan reconstruction base in 2006, warning in May, June, and December 2006 that Afghan authorities were abusing detainees handed over by Canadian forces.

"I have not seen those reports in either my capacity as minister of National Defence or previously as minister of Foreign Affairs," said Peter MacKay
about documents "circulated widely throughout the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments and also shared with senior military commanders in Ottawa and Afghanistan."

The Conservative government dismissed reports of abuse when they first came to light in early 2007, accusing oppositon MPs of sympathizing with the Taliban.

The Conservative government has not delivered any documents to the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry investigating the abuse charges - not even redacted ones - since March 2008.

The government lead lawyer warned potential witnesses that if they comply with inquiry they could become 'collateral casualties'.

When Richard Colvin, now a Foreign Affairs intelligence officer at the Canadian embassy in Washington, decided to testify anyway, government lawyers attempted to have him stricken from the witness list, invoked anti-terrorism national security laws to prevent him from appearing before the inquiry, and attempted to curtail the jurisdiction of the inquiry to hear presentations.

Commission chair Peter Tinsley had to shut down the committee yesterday for six months due to the government's refusal to provide any documents and to allow lawyers to argue what the inquiry may investigate.
Tinsley will be let go as commission chair as of Dec 11.

The Afghan torture cover-up continues.

Friday update from CBC :
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday that he did not see reports in 2006 that suggested there was evidence detainees had been tortured after they were handed over to Afghan prisons by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
Harper said he didn't see the reports "at the time."
"There were allegations of Canadian troops involved in torture. We’ve been very clear that's not the case," the prime minister said.
"At the time." When exactly was "at the time"? Colvin sent 16 separate reports.
"Allegations Canadian troops involved". No. Not at all, you're weaselling. The "allegation" is that you put those troops in the appalling position of transferring their prisoners to certain abuse.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, "at the time": "Torture continues to take place as a routine part of police procedures. The AIHRC has found torture to occur particularly at the investigation stage in order to extort confessions from detainees."

Louise Arbour, the Canadian UN rep who you summarily dismissed, and the U.S. State Department, "at the time": "Afghan local authorities "routinely" torture detainees".

Peter Van Loan, Con house leader "at the time", called them "allegations by the Taliban"

Me, "at the time" : "Canada is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. We simply don't have time to go back and re-fight and re-argue all the battles for some semblance of civilization that we have already won. And we certainly don't have time for any government that hasn't figured this out yet."


Anonymous said...

So - Peter MacKay, Foreign Minister at the time - liar or incompetent? Or both?
"I can't speak for other ministers."
{he said looking around for Gordon O'Connor)


Anonymous said...

So much depends on how accurate the media is in reporting quotes and then there's the guys who write the headlines :
CP: MacKay denies seeing Afghan torture warnings
CTV: Mackay denies knowing about Afghan torture.

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