'Further questioning' - Macleans.ca

‘Further questioning’


In his letter to the Afghanistan committee late last week, Gen. Walter Natynczyk wrote that “Canadian Forces do not transfer individuals for the purposes of gathering information.” In a letter sent today, the NDP’s Paul Dewar and Jack Harris have asked Gen. Natynczyk to clarify this point.

Specifically, Messrs. Dewar and Harris want to know how to square the general’s statement with an October 2007 document they’ve obtained. The document is described as a transfer report and it reads, in part:

“During the interview conducted, it is believe (sic) that all the detainees were deceptive and they have a better knowledge on TB (Taliban) activity in their area. Based upon the above, it is recommended that [names of detainees] be transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NOS) for further questioning”.

The NDP is not making said document public as yet. But Mr. Dewar did raise it during committee hearings last week. He presented it to Malgarai Ahmadshah, a former translator for the Canadian Forces, and Mr. Ahmadshah explained the document as follows.

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Thank you, Chair, and to our guests.

I’ll do as others have done, if I may call you Pasha.

I’m going to read from a document from October 2007 which basically is a Canadian investigator writing comments about detainees. It says:

All detainees were captured in the compound of [name] who was confirmed to be TB [Taliban] commander. Furthermore, [name] tested positive during an explosive residue test and a large quantity of explosive, IEO materials, weapons and ammunitions were also found inside his compound. During the interviews conducted, it is believe [sic.] that all the detainees were deceptive and they have a better knowledge on TB [Taliban] activity in their area. Based upon the above, it is recommended that [names] be transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) for further questioning. Authorize the release of this report to NDS: CO ASIC.

I want to just show you this document, if I may, and if I can ask you if you recognize this document. What I was reading was the end piece, the last paragraph. It’s, I think, three pages there.

The Chair: Mr. Dewar, just as a question, do you have the document for the rest of the committee members to see what you’re passing out?

Mr. Paul Dewar: If I can ask the question and respond to that.

The Chair: Very quickly, but don’t continue to–

Mr. Paul Dewar: I have the paragraph that I read into the record. I can pass that out.

The Chair: It’s a real disadvantage for the committee–

Mr. Paul Dewar: Yes, I can pass that, the paragraph I read into the record too.

If I can ask you if you recognize the document?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I recognize this document. May I ask if this can go into the record, the whole document?

Mr. Paul Dewar: If I may, Chair, just to ask some questions about the document first?

If you could stop the clock for a second, Chair.

Okay, then I’ll carry on with my questions. You see, if I can carry on with the questions, then we can return to the status of the document.

You recognize this document?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Yes, this is a transfer detainee document which was given during the transfer to NDS.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So the last paragraph that I read into the record which I’m sharing with the committee, what would you make of that last paragraph where it says–I omitted the names there–but it says that these people would be transferred to the NDS for further questioning.

What does that mean, they’d be transferred for further questioning?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I have probably translated more than 40 to 50 of these documents and these documents are actually detainee transfer documents which were given to NDS during the transfers.

When I was translating this document, I always asked the tactical questioners. I say, here you say that for further question to NDS. They should be transferred for further questioning. Should I translate this as the transferring for questioning or transferring for torture? They would just laugh.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Why would you say that?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I was always asking, joking with them, because we were working in one room. I say, should I translate this, because they were subcontracting torture.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So you believed, because of your experience, that when a transfer was written into the NDS that meant that they were trying to use the NDS for–

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: They were trying to use the NDS as subcontracting for torture.

Mr. Paul Dewar: In your experience, you said that you’ve translated more than 40 of these agreements?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Yes.

Mr. Paul Dewar: And you were translating them from what language to what language?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I was translating it from English to Pashto. Before we were transferring the detainees, a copy of English and Pashto translation was given to NDS.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So the translated document that you would give that you translated would be for NDS?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: And the English one, yes.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Would these be on file, both documents, kept on file with Canadian Forces or were the–

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Most certainly, because if NDS has it, then they should have it in their file as well.

Mr. Paul Dewar: You say that in this arrangement where these, in this case there were six and I’m looking at the date is October 2007, there were six of these people who were interrogated by Canadian Forces and then passed on to NDS.

You’re saying that when it says at the end that the interview’s concluded, believe that the detainees were deceptive and have better knowledge than they suggested they did, that the idea here was to pass them on to the NDS to extract more information, because of the methods that NDS used?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: The language is very simple here if you look at it. If they wanted to extract more information from them if they were deceptive, keep them for longer and ask them questions until you’re satisfied. If you can’t get it out of them through a normal way, then you have to subcontract the torture. It’s not the first time it happens. We did it with Maher Arar. We subcontracted his torture. So why would anybody doubt that we did not do it with Afghans?

Mr. Paul Dewar: It was understood then when the detainees were being transferred to NDS, it was done for that purpose?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: There was no one in the Canadian military with a uniform who was involved in any way, at any level, with the detainee transfers that they did not know what was going on and what NDS does to their detainees.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So once they handed over the detainees to the NDS it was clear from your experience what would happen after and this was at the end of October?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Yes.


‘Further questioning’

  1. kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight

    thank you dewar & harris

  2. The NDP is not making said document public as yet.

    But remember, the opposition can be totally trusted not to leak anything they can get their hands on for even the most fleeting zinger in QP! Honest!

    • Nice snark, but they just made a good case for their own credibility. No confidential information was given in the public release, names were rightfully omitted and they're not jumping the gun by releasing the full document.

      They're releasing damning information about what the NDS did and what Canadian officials knew about what the NDS did (or even took advantage of it), while keeping any information that could be a potential security risk out of the public eye – that's exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

    • So, your argument is that the fact that the NDP is not making the document public yet is evidence that they can't be trusted to not make documents public?

      If they make the document public, will that be proof for you that they can be trusted not to make these kinds of documents public?

  3. And now the British government has been hit by torture allegations. The Brits turned their detainees over to the same people we did. Harper's stonewalling may not be enough to keep a lid on this, despite the Justice Department's foot dragging.

  4. Note to Gen. Natynczyk:

    General, Canadians have come to understand, if not accept, that our government, our PM and his Ministers will consistently lie, obfuscate, stall and distract on the detainee issue. I believe many Canadians are also coming to see your predecessor, Gen Hillier behave similarly. Please, Gen. Natynczyk, do not follow their foul and dishonest example. Please Gen. Natynczyk, do your best to restore our faith in our military leadership. Tell the plain, unvarnished truth. Don't sacrifice your reputation or that of our brave troops by protecting those that would protect themselves by lying to Canadians.

  5. "Based upon the above, it is recommended that [names of detainees] be transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NOS) for further questioning”."

    Why do the troops hate our troops?

    • Whos troops?

  6. the clot thickens

  7. I fail to understand how, out of these readings into, one can conclusively state that torture was to be upon them.

    Extracting further information may or may not have been done with torture.

    But where is the need for Afghan responsibility in all of this. Do they, or do they not fall under the rules of the Geneva Conventions? Could someone please answer that one.

    • Could you spit your hairs a little finer please?

    • Afghanistan is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, they certainly do have a responsibility to live up to that. However, unless you're suggesting we go full bore imperialist on them and take over their country explicitly, that's not our business.

      What *is* our business is what dealings we have with them, and specifically what we're ordering our troops on the ground to do. If we are ordering them to pass detainees over to where there is a high likelihood of torture, that's our problem.

  8. ah…split…sorry bout that.