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What is Pashto for “gong show”?


 

UPDATE: Lord, it gets worse by the minute. From the Guardian’s narrative of the bust-out, one Taliban escapee had this to say:

Suspicions were immediately roused that the escape plot must have enjoyed support and help from prison guards to suceed, but the Taliban escaper doubted it. “They were just sleeping,” he said amidst extended laughter.

“The guards are always drunk. Either they smoke heroin or marijuana, and then they just fall asleep. During the whole process no one checked, there was no patrols, no shooting or anything.”

As many as five hundred Taliban prisoners were busted out of Kandahar’s Sarpoza prison yesterday. The circumstances are quite remarkable: Insurgents spent 50 months digging a 300-metre tunnel from a safe house northeast of the prison. Prison staff only realized what had happened a half hour after the prisoners had escaped.

Like most journalists who have visited Kandahar, I got a tour of Sarpoza last fall. For good reason: After the Taliban blew the front gate and sprung 900 prisoners in 2008, officials from the Correctional Service of Canada based at the provincial reconstruction team at Camp Nathan Smith took the lead in helping rebuild the prison and turn it into something resembling a modern correctional institution. The Canadians were very proud of the work they had done and the relationships they had built with the Warden of the prison, and were keen to show the results off to visitors. As Doug Schmidt of the Windsor Star wrote before Christmas: “Canada has a lot riding on Sarpoza’s success, including about $5 million invested so far in restoring and upgrading the prison and professionalizing its staff.”

I think it is fair to say that this is a major-league disaster. The fabled “fighting season” is just about to get underway, and there are now 500 additional insurgents on the loose in the heart of the city. Canada has pretty much handed the PRT off to the Americans now, but officials from Correctional Services Canada are apparently at Sarpoza today working on “crisis management”. In an almost comical case of shutting the door after the horses have bolted, the Canadian embassy in Kabul would say only that “The Government of Canada is concerned about this incident. We continue to monitor the situation closely.”

For those interested, here are a few pics from my visit.

The prison is divided into two wings, “criminal” and “political” — the criminals are on the left of this courtyard, the politicals on the right:

We got a full tour of the criminal wing, and even got to chat with prisoners and watch them take classes and build skills, like weaving tapestries of Canadian regimental insignia:

We weren’t allowed to visit or talk to the “political” prisoners, aka Taliban. We could snap pics of them through the cellblock bars, though. I imagine these dudes are sipping tea and eating pistachios somewhere in Kandahar City right now.


 

What is Pashto for “gong show”?

  1. .
    Does the the opposition leader from Harvard now want to send in MORE trainers?

    Is that a solution to the untrainable lunacy over there?

    No trainers, period. Or does he want to see them ALL come home in a box?
    .

    • what is this fellow babbling about?

      • .
        That the leader of the opposition, apparently agreeing with Harper about a moral obligation to keep trainers in Afghanistan, would no doubt agree with Harper that we also have to train Afghan prison guards not to let Taliban prisoners run off.

        Hopefully the prison guards will not turn their rifles on Canadian trainers. For it's now apparent that the guards have taken off for parts unknown. Or rather to their Taliban comrades.

        The bigger issue is: can anyone be foolish enough to vote for Mr. Ignatieff, who agrees with Harper over things so often (if he bothers showing up to vote at all), and things so patently wrong?
        .

  2. .
    I'm imagine Mr. Ignatieff will support any decision by Harper as a response.

    Like more trainers.
    .

  3. I wonder if this level of attention planning and effectiveness is at play in the detainee torture scandal that Mr. harper is deathly afraid of having investigated, as well?

    • 500 fresh fighters in the city — that will cost allied lives this spring. And no one in Canada will even be asked to explain how it happened on our watch.

      • And if there is a majority, harper will be sure to shut down any committee moves to investigate how this happened and how it can be prevented in the future!

  4. Civil service lifers spend millions of dollars unwisely and inefficiently across Canada. Why would anyone expect them to spend it wisely anywhere else in the world?

    • Failings of our justice system aside, usually people notice when prisoners are digging huge tunnels out of Canadian jails.

      Sorry to spoil your ridiculous illusions.

      • I do think the Canadian government needs to say something about this. Canada rebuilt Sarpoza, we set up the infrastructure, trained the guards, and developed the security systems. This is a failure of Canadian implementation and oversight, as far as I can tell.

        Of course, no one will bother with this, because an election is no time to talk about how our foreign adventures are going.

        • Why do you hate the troops, Mr. Potter?

  5. "“Canada has a lot riding on Sarpoza's success, including about $5 million invested so far in restoring and upgrading the prison and professionalizing its staff.”

    "“The guards are always drunk. Either they smoke heroin or marijuana, and then they just fall asleep."

    Professionalization of staff is going well. I would join in with laughter with taliban fighters if this wasn't so serious. Bad monty python skit.

    Must be disheartening for our soldiers.

  6. Let him be clear!

    • if only the Taliban would let him concentrate on the economy.

  7. Just to be very clear about what this has to do with Ignatieff. Since people have to decide whether or not to vote for someone so frequently in agreement with Mr. Harper:

    That the leader of the opposition, apparently agreeing with Harper about a moral obligation to keep trainers in Afghanistan, would no doubt agree with Harper that we also have to train Afghan prison guards not to let Taliban prisoners run off.

    Hopefully the prison guards will not turn their rifles on Canadian trainers. For it's now apparent that the guards have taken off for parts unknown. Probably to their Taliban comrades.

    The bigger issue is: can anyone be foolish enough to vote for Mr. Ignatieff, who agrees with Harper over things so often (if he bothers showing up to vote at all), and things so patently wrong? For if Harper could get the doltish idea to add prison guard trainers to military ones, Mr. Ignatieff, based on his record, would more likely agree than not.

    There is an alternative. Someone who did NOT agree to having any Canadian trainers whatever there.
    .

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