CensusLeaks.ca

Sunday at around 5pm, the story hit the blackberries of government staffers and journalists alike in Ottawa that over 200,000 pages of classified documents describing operations of the war in Afghanistan were posted on WikiLeaks.org, an online clearinghouse for classified government information. It has been argued by the Pentagon and by Foreign Affairs that the information released puts soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan at risk and it has certainly has handed the Taliban a propaganda victory over allied war efforts against the extremist forces in that country.

This news comes in a time period where Ottawa-watchers have been discussing the disclosure, security and privacy of data collected by governments. First, opposition parties argued that the government declassify thousands of pages detailing the detention and transfer of Afghan detainees, and then there’s been that war of numbers over the utlility and intrusiveness of the governments ability to collect data on the citizenry via the census.

Is all data created (and withheld) equally? Do defenders of an open and free society sincerely believe the new axiom that “all information wants to be free”? Is our society free because some information is held secure?

If journalism is — by one definition — to bring comfort to the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable, do information dumps on the execution of the war in Afghanistan bring transparency to decisions made by our elected leaders, or do they provide comfort to the enemy? Even the decision to reveal classified documents on detainee transfers to Parliament was done reluctantly and the documents were revealed under strict guidelines.

Two arguments against the long-form census — in a debate that has turned into a “national crisis” according to one breathless account from a journalist at macleans.ca — are that the census could violate the privacy of individuals and that a mandatory burden comes with state penalty of jail or a fine or both.

We used to live in a world where releasing classified information to the enemy in wartime was akin to treason because it violated a clear national interest — our security. Yet, the founder of wikileaks and those that participated in the release of classified information will likely never see the inside of a jail cell. Our world has evolved such that it may not be reasonable for the government to expect that information can remain secure. Society has changed such that the average citizen can instantly react to information as it continuously breaks. Has our war cabinet been expanded to include the hoards of sarcastic tweeters deskchair-quarterbacking the conflict? Has elected leadership been replaced by liveblogging and instant polls? Does information want to be free because now we all can make the day-by-day decisions to effectively execute this war? No, of course not.

As the wikileaks release has shown, information can never be confidently be deemed “secure”. Even information vital to national security can be compromised and the security of this data is held paramount by our government compared to concerns over personal privacy. In this case, breach of secure information was done so according to a unilateral and unaccountable political agenda of “openness”. Troubling still, a significant subset of the voices against scrapping the long-form census are now heralding this new “transparency” of information that compromises the security of our troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

Transparency, openness, privacy and security are all important principles here. How you justify any of these at the expense of others is of course how your agenda is constituted. In this modern world, we must presume a full spectrum of agendas and since we can no longer stand together united behind one interest, we must be vigilant in protecting our own. If the state cannot ensure security in the private data it collects, we as citizens should not be open and transparent to it. If for the sake of transparency and openness, activists compromise the security and safety of their fellow citizens, they should be afforded neither from the state.

Big news day

First, SUN NEWS is coming to Canada and is launching January 1st, 2011. Expect the CRTC to approve the channel to maintain its relevance (cabinet would likely overturn the CRTC if it objects). Though at the presser today it was suggested that Category 2 application will proceed if Category 1 fails.

Here’s a video of the press conference courtesy of Dr. Roy:

Detainee Docs
Next, the NDP has withdrawn from negotiations with the four parties on the release of the so-called Afghan detainee documents. The NDP says that the Liberals aren’t negotiating in good faith. The Liberals call the deal (sans NDP) a “surrender” for the government allowing Parliamentary review without government veto over sensitive information.

CBC News has the tape (and uploads to twitvid — fitting for covering politics?)

MP audits
More Parliamentary news has Sheila Fraser conducting a future global audit of MP expenses meaning that she will report on how MPs in general spend but will not delve into individual MP expenses. I heard of a poll suggesting that 98% of Canadians want the AG to look into MP expenses whereas 2% are opposed. Who knew that 1 out of 50 Canadians have contracts with the House of Commons?

Trudeau steps in it
Trudeau the Younger “wows ‘em” at a local community college stop in the Ottawa region and gets himself into a bit of hot water. He told the students,

“A productive member of society is someone who creates … is someone who has things to offer that go beyond the products that we have to sell or buy.”

This was news to, well, those that produce.

Ignatieff not election ready
In more Liberal news, Michael Ignatieff is trying to keep to his goal of making it into the obscurity of summer while dodging rebukes from his own caucus. Take, for instance that three Liberal candidates have resigned in the past month. Never a good omen for a leader of a political party.

Prince Edward Hastings
Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale
Kootenay-Columbia

The candidate for Kootenay-Columbia dropped citing his displeasure in Ignatieff for whipping the gun-registry vote. If the gun registry survives, Ignatieff plans on registering the nation’s daggers (or at least those within his own party)

Hidden Agenda redux!

Good times are here again! The Liberals have released an attack YouTube (not an ad, just earned media bait — full irony understood here). The video implies Canada is acting like a third world country:

“Cover-up: a description far more familiar to other countries, until now.”

Cover-ups. Where have we heard this before?

[It] shocked the Canadian public and brought to light internal problems in the Canadian [Forces]. Military leadership came into sharp rebuke after a CBC reporter received altered documents, leading to allegations of a cover up. Eventually a public inquiry was called. [It was] controversially cut short by the government…

Is this today’s story of alleged (yes alleged) torture in of Afghans in Afghanistan by Afghans? No. This was about Somalia. This was about Canadians. This was about a cover-up by a Liberal government.

Today, Afghan detainees, one allegedly beaten with a shoe by an Afghan prison guard, is (allegedly!) throwing the country into madness. This is not Canada’s Abu Ghraib as some Liberal strategists have regrettably suggested.

Get the scandal playbook! Look up Chapter 3: What did you know and when did you know it?

The Liberal ad continues:

“When questions arose about what he and his government knew about torture in Afghanistan, Stephen Harper shut down Parliament.”

Flashback to Michael Ignatieff in a New York Times magazine op-ed piece, May 2, 2004:

“To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war.”

And for full context, we know that Michael Ignatieff has since climbed down on the Iraq war, and called it a mistake. And torture? Well, that was intellectual pretzel making, his defenders will say. He has, afterall, grappled with the issue and has come around to the fact that torture is wrong. We think.

Kady O’Malley, then at Macleans got the federal party leaders’ current positions on torture before this latest resurgence of this old story,

Michael Ignatieff:

“His current view is the same view he held as a renowned human rights expert who helped author the Responsibility to Protect: he is opposed.”

Case closed? Seems good enough for some reporters.

And Stephen Harper?

“The Prime Minister unequivocally condemns torture in all its forms. Canada is a signatory to both the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

Good enough for others?

And the prorogation of Parliament? Was this to “cover-up torture” in Afghanistan? The Liberal line is a classic political attack from days gone by: “we don’t know, he just won’t say”.

Much has been said of prorogations and their history. Shutting down Parliament at the apparent whim of a Prime Minister should perhaps open up a broader debate about the use of this power, and those that prorogue may incur the political cost that goes along with it whether large or small. But while we’re on the topic of Parliament and the apparent upset that prorogation has caused some Canadians, surely the dissolution of Parliament at a Prime Minister’s whim should be much worse shouldn’t it?

Flashback to 2000, Jean Chretien in a comfortable majority not only padlocked parliament, shut it down, cast aside committees and put up a chain link fence, but he also fired all MPs from their job and made them reapply, just because Stockwell Day was weak and ready to be slaughtered (he was).

And to 2008 when Stephen Harper, despite his own fixed election date law, called an election citing the log jammed committees in Parliament. Granted, the law allowed for an early election to be called if Parliament could not proceed smoothly, but despite this subjective test for maneuvering within the law and straight into an election, opponents called it crass opportunism because Stephen Harper perceived Stephane Dion to be weak and ready to be slaughetered (he was).

So, does prorogation cause anger and if so, does it amount to a high political price to be paid by whomever invokes it? And yet, dissolution is in effect, Prorogation Plus. Prime Ministers have been accused of political opportunism in the past and will be accused of political opportunism in the future. And if opportunism is the currency of politics, who knew that in Canadian politics we’d see… politics?

The question remains. Is this an unusual time in Canadian politics? Does prorogation cause more upset than dissolution? Are we in a place where down is up and black is white in Canadian politics? If so, does Michael Ignatieff perceive the Prime Minister to be weak and ready to be slaughtered in an election?

I have my doubts.

And Michael Ignatieff? He has his own.

The case for prorogation

Buzz about Ottawa these past two weeks (there’s really nothing else going on here) is talk about the Prime Minister asking the Governor General for a prorogation of this session of Parliament to recall MPs to the legislature in March of next year.

Opponents on the opposition benches and in the media have been cynical of such a move citing that Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament just last year and that like last year a prorogation would be a dodge rather than for anything substantive.

Indeed, the Prime Minister asked the Governor general for a suspension of Parliament last year after the coalition government attempt to replace a freshly elected Prime Minister and his cabinet just six weeks after an election, ahem, for no substantive reason beyond cynical bickering that the governing Conservatives were moving to remove public financing (read: party welfare) from all parties. The loudest opponents to this move were the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois, two parties that find that collecting tax monies is an easier option that appealing directly to their respective bases for funding.

And this year, what substantive reason exists for a reset of Parliament? The opposition will argue that because an Afghan detainee transfer was hit with a shoe by a Afghan prison guard and that problems may have existed with our trust of transfer of Afghan nationals to the sovereign national Afghan authorities was at times tested, the Prime Minister is again running away from his problems. They will say that prorogation is political despite the Conservative lead in the polls and despite the fact that this detainee issue isn’t doing too much of anything to affect the Prime Minister’s standing in the polls.

However, let’s step back and go outside of the Ottawa bubble wherein the last two weeks of reporting of any period contains the most important news stories ever told. In 50 years, when they look back at the prorogation of 2010, how will they recount this event (if at all)?

For the first time in twenty years, Conservatives will have a plurality in the Senate of Canada. Our parliament is a bicameral body consisting of a lower and upper house. While its activities may not be conducive to the lust of the cut and thrust of politics for the average Ottawa watcher — and who called whom “fat” on Twitter in committee this week — the Senate is constitutionally important to the parliament of Canada. When a new plurality exists in the lower House, the Governor General asks the party leader that can lead a stable government to form a cabinet. When a new plurality exists within the Senate, the government’s opponents accuse the Prime Minister of politics when the Prime Minister asks the Governor General for a chance to reset parliament so that its committees and functions may represent the new reality.

The case for prorogation is constitutional.The case against it is political.

Universal or selective human rights?

This week, the Prime Minister is in China to supposedly thaw relations he has been criticized for frosting since the years he was in opposition criticizing the government.

Stephen Harper, and indeed, a number of prominent Conservatives have, for years, roundly admonished China for its poor human rights record since the days of the Reform Party. For this, members of the opposition have suggested that the Conservatives firm stance against China has harmed our economic relationship with that country.

Among the Conservatives who have stood up against China is Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of Citizenship and Immigration. My first exposure to Jason Kenney’s breadth of politics came in 2005 when he and members of the Alberta Conservative caucus held a pro-Tibet movie night at the Conservative Party Convention in Montreal. In January of that year, while on a parliamentary trip overseas, Kenney was criticized by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin for embarrassing the Chinese when he visited the home of pro-democracy reformer Zhao Ziyang.

***

In the Afghan detainee transfer agreement signed by General Rick Hillier and the Afghanistan defence minister, an entente was struck to prevent human rights abuses. Among other important guarantees it declares, “No person transferred from the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities will be subject to the application of the death penalty.” This is a strict yet progressive demand for the unstable government of an emerging democracy which in darker days used to slit the throats of thieves like sheep before a stadium of spectators in Kandahar province.

Last week China put a bullet in the back of the head of two company managers in the tainted milk scandal where six children died of contaminated milk. With an estimated 470 executions in 2008, China is believed to be the world’s leading executioner.

In Canada, some of our Liberal Parliamentarians have shown surprise over the past three weeks at allegations that some Afghans treat their fellow Afghans with callous disregard and fault Canadian officials for an uneasy balancing of coddling of a country reborn out of rubble going through the birth pangs of establishing a civil society, with the brutal hell of war against combatants that wear no uniform, splash acid in the faces of schoolchildren, and cut off the ears of those that would work to bring good governance to their country.

Meanwhile, Liberal observers have criticized the Conservatives for pushing human rights in China at the expense of trade. Liberals such as John McCallum describe the “broken Canada-China relation[ship] under the Conservative government” and Scott Brison who prematurely boasted that “the fact that Ignatieff is able to go to China as the leader of the opposition before the ruling party leader does is a clear indication of how good and solid relation[s] between the Liberals and China [are].” Ignatieff subsequently canceled his trip due to a pending fall election triggered by the Liberal leader himself.

This sentiment expressed by McCallum and Brison is not exclusive to the critics of the Liberal benches in the House of Commons. Rebukes of Stephen Harper’s tough stance on China’s abuses have also been echoed by former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien who complains that Canada used to be China’s “best friend”. Chretien bemoaned that comparatively, in the first three years that he was Prime Minister, the p’tit gars had visited China eight or nine times. Never mind the fact that Chretien started lobbying the Chinese government within weeks of stepping down as Canada’s twentieth Prime Minister.

According to Amnesty International, China is guilty of a number of human rights abuses,

Growing numbers of human rights activists were imprisoned, put under house arrest or surveillance, or harassed. Repression of minority groups, including Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongolians, continued. Falun Gong practitioners were at particularly high risk of torture and other ill-treatment in detention. Christians were persecuted for practising their religion outside state-sanctioned channels. Despite the reinstatement of Supreme People’s Court review of death penalty cases, the death penalty remained shrouded in secrecy and continued to be used extensively. Torture of detainees and prisoners remained prevalent. Millions of people had no access to justice and were forced to seek redress through an ineffective extra-legal petition system. Women and girls continued to suffer violence and discrimination.

Conservatives are usually criticized for dealing with issues in absolutes, in rights and wrongs, in black and white. Meanwhile Liberals sometimes suffer a charge of moral relativism from their opponents as they are accused of dealing in shades of grey. On their assessment of a nascent democracy suffering in horrific ravages of war, a country attempting to cast off ages of illiberalism and lawlessness, it is evident that Liberals have little sympathy for the harsh realities of an imperfect situation. Whereas on a country with an often brutal established dictatorial order, a country with a $4.3 Trillion GDP, and a country that actually bans human rights monitoring groups from operating within its borders, Liberals such as Bob Rae suggest:

“The Chinese are very concerned about stability, they’re very concerned about order. They’re very concerned about a billion people. They’re fearful of the consequences of losing that kind of control. Seems to me we just have to keep on trying to persuade them that liberty is the better way. It’s something we believe in and something we should share with them.” — Bob Rae

If you’re looking for Rae in the halls of Parliament these days, his tolerance seems selective and true concern seems focused elsewhere,

The opposition parties say it is not believable that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his senior ministers weren’t aware of Colvin’s troubling reports. If true, they could implicate Canada in the war crime of complicity in torture.

“The fact of the matter is that if there was ever at any time a view that there was a serious risk of people being mistreated, those prisoners should never have been transferred and such transfer is a breach of international law,” said Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae.

Torture is abhorrent and is a fundamental violation of human rights. I’m confident that most would agree that such a violation is terrible no matter where or against whom it occurs. Yet can we reasonably expect perfection from Afghans in an imperfect situation in their war-torn country while diminishing and invoking willful ignorance of the abuses by a modern, industrialized and enviably affluent state such as China?

The Colvin emails

For your information, here are the emails from Richard Colvin, former deputy head of mission in Afghanistan regarding the his version of events surrounding the treatment of Afghan detainees.

Now that they are in the public domain, they can face scrutiny from everyone.

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The Afghan detainee document dump

1. December 18th agreement for the transfer of Afghan detainees between Gen. Rick Hillier and Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan Minister of Defence.

2. Gosselin Affidavit

3. Buck Affidavit

2. Affidavit from Richard Colvin to the Military Police Complaints Commission signed October 5th, 2009.

3. Richard Colvin email (KANDH-0029) not available.

4. Richard Colvin email (KANDH-0032) not available.

5. Richard Colvin email (KANDH-0039) obtained by Amnesty International.

6. Richard Colvin email (KANDH0074) obtained by Amnesty International.

7. Richard Colvin email (KANDH0082) obtained by Amnesty International.

8. Richard Colvin email (KANDH0125) obtained by Amnesty International.

9. Richard Colvin email (KANDH0138) obtained by Amnesty International.

10. Richard Colvin email (KGBR0291) obtained by Amnesty International.

11. Testimony of Richard Colvin before the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, November 18th 2009.

12. Testimonies of Gen. (Ret) Rick Hillier, L.Gen Michel Gauthier and M.Gen David Fraser before the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, November 25th 2009.

13. Testimony of Ambassador David Mulroney before the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, November 26th 2009.

Notes:

– The Colvin email dates are redacted. At this time we do not know if the emails are dated prior to 2007 when abuses came to light.

– Canadian Forces don’t monitor Afghan prisons, CF relies upon civilian authorities to do this. Colvin’s emails went out on the C4 network. The military isn’t on the C4 network, from my understanding. Colvin asks C4 recipients to pass info up the military chain of command. Hillier asked why Colvin never raised concerns with him in person while he was there – was this a chain of command issue and not wanting to step outside his lane or something else?

– Some will argue that it was Graeme Smith’s reporting that “informed” Canadians of torture in Afghan prisons. This reporting isn’t official according to CF and would have been unproven at the time. Smith did have special perspective as he lived off base in downtown Kandahar.

– Did the Red Cross at any time tell the Canadian government that they were in a position to commit war crimes due to what the ICRC was observing in Afghan prisons where Canadian detainees were taken after 2007? This answer may already exist within the public realm but I haven’t seen it.

– The threshold of torture is quite uncomfortably put, another legitimate concern. While some abuses and conditions in Afghan prisoners may shock Canadians, Hillier suggested that a punch or a beating may sit on one side of the thin line as abuse, while electrocution, and fingernail ripping sits on the other as torture.

– The Buck affidavit explains Canada’s role in establishing human rights in Afghanistan while describing the difficulties of establishing a Canadian prison in a sovereign Afghanistan. War is not a perfect process nor a practice undertaken with clinical precision. Colvin and others have conflicting accounts of Canada’s efforts to do everything within reason to respond to reports of abuse.

– Torture is far too serious a screw up in counterinsurgency whether violence is more common in Afghan culture or not. Although it is relevant to recognize that this was Afghan on Afghan – sovereign nation in its own prisons on its own citizens. This of course, doesn’t make it right at all, but it doesn’t make it Canadians torturing Afghans.

– If you believe other documents may be useful to supplement this collection, please suggest them in the comments.

Ujjal Dosanjh on getting to the truth on Afghan prisoners

Some diplomats are more credible than others according to Dosanjh?

On Twitter, we learn of Mr. Dosanjh’s opinion of Richard Colvin’s testimony:

“Colvin was absolutely honest ystrdy. He risked his all. #lpc #cdnpoli #roft” — Ujjal Dosanjh, November 19th 2009

What is Mr. Dosanjh’s opinion of the testimony that David Mulroney would give?

“The government expects us to go into that committee blindly and Mr. Mulroney sits there and tells us this happened and we have no way of knowing whether it happened or not.” — Ujjal Dosanjh, November 23rd 2009

David Mulroney is the current ambassador to China who ran the Afganistan Task Force for the government of Canada. Richard Colvin was a senior diplomat who served in Afghanistan.

Taliban tortured? Some context.

From the second last page of an Al Qaeda training manual found in Manchester England from a terrorist safe-house:

Lesson Eighteen

PRISONS AND DETENTION CENTERS

IF AN INDICTMENT IS ISSUED AND THE TRIAL BEGINS, THE BROTHER HAS TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING:

  1. At the beginning of the trial, once more the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge.
  2. Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison.
  3. Make arrangements for the brother’s defense with the attorney, whether he was retained by the brother ‘s family or court-appointed.
  4. The brother has to do his best to know the names of the state security officers, who participated in his torture and mention their names to the judge. [These names may be obtained from brothers who had to deal with those officers in previous cases.]
  5. Some brothers may tell and may be lured by the state security investigators to testify against the brothers [i.e. affirmation witness], either by not keeping them together in the same prison during the trials, or by letting them talk to the media. In this case, they have to be treated gently, and should be offered good advice, good treatment, and pray that God may guide them.
  6. During the trial, the court has to be notified of any mistreatment of the brothers inside the prison.
  7. It is possible to resort to a hunger strike, but it is a tactic that can either succeed or fail.
  8. Take advantage of visits to communicate with brothers outside prison and exchange information that may be helpful to them in their work outside prison [according to what occurred during the investigations]. The importance of mastering the art of hiding messages is self evident here.
  9. - When the brothers are transported from and to the prison [on their way to the court] they should shout Islamic slogans out loud from inside the prison cars to impress upon the people and their family the need to support Islam.
  10. - Inside the prison, the brother should not accept any work that may belittle or demean him or his brothers, such as the cleaning of the prison bathrooms or hallways.
  11. - The brothers should create an Islamic program for themselves inside the prison, as well as recreational and educational ones, etc.
  12. - The brother in prison should be a role model in selflessness. Brothers should also pay attention to each others needs and should help each other and unite vis a vis the prison officers.
  13. - The brothers must take advantage of their presence in prison for obeying and worshiping [God] and memorizing the Qora’an, etc. This is in addition to all guidelines and procedures that were contained in the lesson on interrogation and investigation. Lastly, each of us has to understand that we don’t achieve victory against our enemies through these actions and security procedures. Rather, victory is achieved by obeying Almighty and Glorious God and because of their many sins. Every brother has to be careful so as not to commit sins and everyone of us has to do his best in obeying Almighty God, Who said in his Holy Book: “We will, without doubt. help Our messengers and those who believe (both) in this world’s life and the one Day when the Witnesses will stand forth.” May God guide us.

When taken into Afghani custody, did the al Qaeda training take over? Curiously, detainees did not claim torture at the hands of Canadians, but only by Afghani jailers. Detainees are only held by Canadian Forces for at most 96 hours before being handed over to Afghan authorities.

Of course, this does not absolve Canada from their duty to protect the human rights of even the most despicable human beings. However, we should be aware that claiming torture is standard operating procedure for those trained by, or in association with al Qaeda.

The Globe and Mail’s Graeme Smith has been covering this story all week from Kandahar and details horrible accounts of abuse in this article.

I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle: I suspect the claims because the Taliban have been trained to claim such mistreatment while imprisoned. However, the Afghan prison system is one of the last places where I’d want to be incarcerated.

The Canadian government is also trying to balance a couple of important objectives here. They must help the Afghani state to stand on its own two feet, and this includes the establishment of a prisons/corrections department of the government. But, they must balance this with being cognizant of human rights.

Consider this from an interview with Afghani ambassador Omar Samad from CTV NewsNet:

“We don’t kiss murderers, and I’m not saying that anyone who is detained is a murderer, but we are dealing with very vicious dangerous people. Every day we are facing normal citizens being beheaded, normal citizens being blown up, your soldiers being attacked, other soldiers that are being attacked. We’ll not tolerate that. At the same time we are trying to bring rule of law to Afghanistan. Justice system that works in Afghanistan. And so we are working on those things. If there are problems we’ll try to correct them as soon as possible.” — Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada, Omar Samad

This point brings me back to an earlier thought. While the opposition is coming down on the mission in Afghanistan, showing concern for Taliban detainees, they are driving a wedge through the support of the Canadian electorate for a effort to establish and maintain human rights for millions of Afghanis, including women and children who for many are only experiencing their rights for the first time. We know that the opposition opposes the mission in Afghanistan. However, on the issue of rights I feel that Dion and Layton are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by trying to sink the Conservatives on the issue of detainees.

The news is inherently foggy as it deals with accounts from some unsavoury characters. One example has emerged from Smith’s story that I link above. Smith quotes Sadullah Khan, the Kandahar NDS chief and senior administrator of the system where most of the torture is alleged to have taken place.

However, in a release today, the Afghani embassy in Ottawa issued a release questioning that particular detail of Smith’s report:

“NDS officials also confirm that their employee rosters for Kandahar do not show any person named Sadullah Khan as having been employed by the agency in the past year. They also clarify that the person in-charge of NDS in the province is a person by a different name.”

One thing is certain, we do not have all of the details and those that we have are questionable, at best. The Canadian government has its own capacity to investigate and I’m hopeful that they are doing what they can to clarify, and if necessary, remedy the situation.

Who will sing a folk song for the women of Afghanistan?

There are times when I cannot understand the logical path that the left takes in order to come to some of their conclusions.

For example, the other day, Stephane Dion floated a trial balloon on his idea that perhaps instead of handing Taliban detainees over to the Afghan people, we should import them and detain them here in Canada!

Nevermind that Dion and Jack Layton’s activist base have been advocating for the release of men linked to al Qeada in Canada and held on security certificates. They advocate that if we can’t deport them back to the backward countries that may torture them, we shouldn’t detain them here but rather release them into the public. Now, consider Dion’s plan: import Taliban fighters for detaining, and failing the stomach to detain them — the logical progression and historical record goes — release them into the general Canadian public when leftwing activists condemn the Canadian government for holding combatants without charge.

Most times, while logic is lacking, left-wing positions can often be explained by a sense of self-loathing as these revolutionaries are dyspeptic of their presence in our modern Western civilization.

Let’s look deeper into the intellectual pretzel of Dion and Layton’s crowd.

In a March 2007 article in the Globe and Mail, Amir Attaran wrote:

Transport our detainees from Afghanistan to prisoner-of-war camps in Canada. This sounds awful, but that is a shrill and unhistorical analysis. Starting in June of 1940, Canada transported about 40,000 German and Italian enemy combatants to this country and held them in camps in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Those enemies were treated humanely. They were fed even as Canadians suffered under food rationing. They were given democracy classes, so they could spread those ideas in their fascist homelands. When the war ended, they went home; some returned as immigrants.

All of this was expensive, but Mackenzie King decided Canada should uphold the Geneva Conventions — and we did.

Not only would this option show Canada at our humanitarian best, but it poses vital questions. If Mackenzie King could imprison 40,000 European enemies without devastating Canada’s war effort, then how can it be seriously contended that Stephen Harper cannot now imprison roughly 40 Afghan enemies (the number detained by the Canadian Forces from 2002 through mid-2006)? Mr. O’Connor says the Canadian Forces will always follow the Geneva Conventions. If that’s so, why does the military fail to provide Geneva protections to 0.1 per cent of detainees, compared to the Second World War historical norm?

The heart-rending answer to these questions appears to be race. Canada’s inability to treat European and Afghan enemies on equal terms indicates that our military and foreign-policy establishment may still be dominated by a Eurocentric ethos. The current detainee policy suggests a subterranean racism that lags decades behind Canada’s contemporary reality as a multicultural state.

A primary concern for the Allies and Canadian forces during the Second World War was that Germans and Italians would escape or be liberated by their comrades and rejoin the fight. The removal of 40,000 prisoners from the European theater made sense strategically. If Canadians have captured 40 Taliban fighters, this number is certainly more manageable (and less significant of a strategic concern) when it comes to detainment.

Layton and Dion and their supporters on the left are inconsistent when it comes to their claimed ideology of rights and their policy position that we ought to pull out of Afghanistan. Why do these leaders want to abandon the Afghan mission when the alternative is unthinkable from a human rights perspective? To the Liberals, was the Charter a practical document for Canadian rights or does it represent a global ideal? Women in parliament? Girls in schools? The crackdown by the Taliban would be horrendous if Canada left. In fact, why was World War II worth the fight and why would Layton and Dion suggest that we shirk our responsibility to stop fascism in Afghanistan? Is it the Eurocentric ethos of the NDP and Liberal Party? Or is it more consistent with the trend of reductio ad americanum practiced by the left?

Who is Amir Attaran? Unfortunately, he’s close to the only seemingly sane faction of the Liberal Party. The Globe and Mail provides some information:

Amir Attaran, now Canada research chair in law, population health, and global development policy at the University of Ottawa, was a research fellow at the Kennedy School during Mr. Ignatieff’s time at the Carr.

He ran afoul of an influential faculty member and the school’s administration over a line of academic inquiry he insisted on pursuing, and found himself about to be booted out.

He brought his troubles to Mr. Ignatieff, who gave him office space and mentoring support until he could find another academic home. “Michael stuck up for me against some extremely nasty attacks,” Prof. Attaran says.

Tous ensemble in a twisted stew of self-loathing. It is illogical to suggest that we must transport Taliban fighters to protect them from torture while advocating that we withdraw from Afghanistan leaving women and vulnerable minorities to certain dehumanization.

Canada is in Afghanistan to enable the vulnerable to stand up, but we must also work to protect the human rights of all Afghanis. While war never happens as planned and calls for constant refinements to operations on the ground, we must always work towards maintaining our fundamental principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law so that others may enjoy them too.