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Let's just repeat this: torture to detainees was known to have happenned.

This news report says it all:

In a major embarrassment for the government, Canada’s top soldier unexpectedly revealed on Wednesday that some Canadian troops had known detainees handed over to Afghan authorities could be abused. The announcement by General Walt Natynczyk effectively swept away the long-held official line that there was no credible evidence prisoners might be harmed. Legal experts say handing over detainees in the knowledge they could be abused is a war crime.

The key passage from these “just discovered” notes is the part I’ve highlighted, in my opinion:

A contrite Natynczyk said on Wednesday he had just received information about an incident in southern Afghanistan in June 2006 that showed soldiers knew what could happen to detainees. Reading from the field notes from an officer after troops arrested an Afghan man, he said: “We then photographed the individual prior to handing him over to ensure that if the Afghan National Police did assault him, as has happened in the past, that we would have a visual record of his condition.”

H/T Jim Curran for the heads up on the article. I’m not quite prepared to go as far as Jim’s declaration yet, but the evidence is mounting.. and since Harper is still refusing to hold a public inquiry, the International Criminal Court in the Hague should have someone sending these new reports to them immediately. Perhaps if media and opposition pressure won’t cause Harper to call an inquiry, a notification from the ICC might prod him along.

11 comments to Let’s just repeat this: torture to detainees was known to have happenned.

  • Roll Tide

    Thanks for the criticism, but perhaps you’re misunderstanding what I’m trying to say (or perhaps I just didn’t express it clearly).

    He is allowed to express his opinion on how Canadians generally feel, columnists do this almost every day, sometimes backing it up with polls. Now because you disagree with it, you state its not his “place”.

    That mindset can become Orwellian.

    • @Roll Tide,

      “He is allowed to express his opinion on how Canadians generally feel, columnists do this almost every day, sometimes backing it up with polls. Now because you disagree with it, you state its not his “place”.”

      What columnists do is project their own opinions onto the electorate as a way of legitimizing how they feel, or to justify their cynicism. And I am allowed to state my opinion on why I think that is foolish. And you are allowed to express your opinion that I am foolish.

      So far we seem to be very far away from anything Orwellian.

      • Roll Tide

        @David V.,

        “What columnists do is project their own opinions onto the electorate as a way of legitimizing how they feel, or to justify their cynicism. And I am allowed to state my opinion on why I think that is foolish. And you are allowed to express your opinion that I am foolish.”

        Totally agree.

        Stating a columnists opinion is “foolish” is freedom.
        Stating a columnists opinion is not their “place” is what happens in China.

        • @Roll Tide,

          Well, I assure you that I am deeply, deeply sorry to have chosen a Chinese word rather than an English one.

          And incidentally, if the most the Chinese have to worry about is a nearly-broke college student using some disagreeable word choice in his complaint that a newspaper columnist should not presume to speak on behalf of all of his fellow compatriots outside the capital, then they’re a lot better off than I thought they were.

  • Roll Tide,

    Thanks for the criticism, but perhaps you’re misunderstanding what I’m trying to say (or perhaps I just didn’t express it clearly). My point is that Ibbitson speaks for himself: not for other Canadians. He is free to express his opinion and I in no way suggested that he should not do so.

    This has nothing to do with media control or leftist conspiracies to obtain the latter. Your paranoia is absurd, and, frankly, your suggestion that criticism of columnists’ willingness to downplay torture is mere leftist “irritation” says more about you than it does about me.

  • Saying it’s an “Ottawa-only” issue is simply a way of trying to excuse and downplay it. It’s an attempt to say that Canadians don’t care about the issue, and it’s not Ibbitson’s place to make that decision.

    It’s also a pretty disturbing maneuver on his part, to support the government like that. The role of the media is not (or at least should not) be to downplay crimes committed by the government.

    • Roll Tide

      @David V.,

      “it’s not Ibbitson’s place to make that decision”

      Ibbitson is a columnist, it is his place to express an opinion.

      Ibbitson is merely saying that most Canadians are not going to lose sleep over roughed up detainees that may have tried to kill our soldiers.

      Now, as a columnist,he is not allowed to express his opinion?

      Oh how the left get irritated when they do not have 100% media control, 80% is not good enough.

  • Ibbotson in the Globe today: “Detainee abuse is not, and never will be, a ballot question. … But politically, this is an issue that doesn’t resonate outside Ottawa.”

    I heard another pundit express the same sentiment yesterday. Yet, judging by the 1000’s of comments that are being made daily on the Globe and CBC websites, it really looks like Canadians DO care about human rights and upholding our obligations under international and Canadian law.

    This is absolutely NOT an inside the Queensway issue. It goes to the very heart of our Canadian identity. Like others who love this country, I want to be able to hold my head up and really believe we at least try to do the right thing. Harper wants to gamble that voters are willing to ignore human rights abuses and violations of int’l and Cdn law? Bring it on.

  • Big Winnie

    Another couple of questions that needs to be raised are:
    Why did information “suddenly” come to light regarding torture on the same day that MacKay testified at the defense committee hearings?
    Is the government complicit in the coverup of the info and are releasing it so that they can perform damage control?

  • Anon ABC

    That Harper is going to make MacKay the sacrificial lamb is, I think, not a question any more. Question is whether MacKay will go quietly or take the others with him. Remember that Mulroney testified that he was in almost daily contact with the PMO (might be PCO, I can’t be sure). Either way, how could Harper credibly claim ignorance?

    Another point that I have not noticed mentioned much today is that Natancyzk’s reversal now causes a huge problem for Hillier and Gauthier who had both summarily dismissed Colvin’s claim of torture in 2006 as “ludicrous”. In fact, it raises the obvious question why both of these Generals did not know something that was already in the public record or were they intentionally or otherwise misleading the public?

    The most obvious possible answer is that a cover-up was attempted with claims of no credible evidence of torture in 2006, while great efforts were made to suppress public and opposition MPs’ access to the memos/reports. There are lots of evidence that can possibly be cited to support this.

    Natancyzk’s aboutface also raises a few more interesting questions:

    (a) Is Natancyzk refusing to play along either because he realized he had been misled by the previous military brass or did something just happen to make him change his mind and tell the truth?

    (b) Were witnesses coached to tell the same, and as it has turned out, unsubstantiated story of no credible evidence of torture in 2006?

    (c) What is the role of the Justice Dept in this — why are they claiming that the MPs do not have a right to see the unredacted memos/reports?

    One thing for sure, Natancyzk at least for whatever reason, hopefully because of the right reasons, has shown he respects the truth, albeit belatedly.

  • Like his friend “Shrub” Bush, Harper does not believe in the UN, OR the International Criminal Court. I know this from constant contact with Reformers in AB, who were hatefully and vehemently opposed to the Court (or any Courts for that matter). Harper may say one thing in public, but his ideology does not allow him to accept the ascendency of the ICC…

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