Potentially explosive - Macleans.ca

Potentially explosive


A former translator has just concluded rather dramatic testimony at the special committee on Afghanistan.

An Afghan-Canadian who served as translator to Canada’s military levelled potentially explosive allegations at a Commons committee today, saying Canadian troops transferred “innocent” men to Afghanistan’s notorious intelligence service and once shot an unarmed man in the back of the head.

Malgarai Ahmadshah, adviser to the former commander of Canada’s Joint Task Force Afghanistan unit, was speaking to MPs probing the detainee issue and this country’s relationship with the Afghan National Directorate of Security…Mr. Ahmadshah also alleged the Canadian government transferred detainees to the NDS with the understanding they would be abused in order to extract more intelligence information from them. “They were subcontracting torture,” he said.

More from the CBC, Sun and Canadian Press.


Potentially explosive

  1. On the absurd front, I thought this quote from Kady's liveblog to be fairly telling:

    "Sorenson then has to shut down Hawn's bluster that this meeting may have compromised operational security, and demands that the transcripts be held. […] The chair – who looks like he's heard just about enough on that issue – reminds him that this meeting is being televised, and is public."

    • I have to agree. Nothing Ahmadshah said could compromise ongoing tactical operations in Afghanistan. It didn't include anything that could increase the enemy's ability to target Canadian soldiers. Hence, it largely support the idea that Conservative claims about "security" are intended to prevent politically damaging information from coming out, rather than being concerns about actual strategically or tactically relevant information that could damage operations in Afghanistan.

      We need the documents unredacted. If facts about Canadians handing people over to be tortured, including non-combatants, and allegations that an innocent man was shot, are what the Conservatives mean when they talk about security being compromised, then there's no justification for keeping the documents back.

      • YOur point is well taken except for the "we" need the documents unredacted part. They should be made available to parliament or possibly just a committee, but I think releasing them publicly might be too much.

  2. Don't you have anything better to do, Wherry?

    • …Than blog about Canadian Government committee hearings in the "Canada Blog" section of a national magazine's website?

      Try harder next time.

      • I think it was sarcasm.

      • I see my subtle sarcasm has escaped you.

        I was just saving the ConBots the effort.

        • Nice try, but you know they'll show up anyway.

  3. The translator is probably a Taliban plant who is now just trying to hurt our Soldiers. Unless he has video of our soldiers transfering "innocent" prisoners, I'll just assume Ahmadshah is with the Taliban. I love how Ahmadshah knows that someone is innocent not only is he a translator he can also read minds.

    • How does a lack of video evidence prove he is Taliban? That's absurd.

      Do you expect translators to walk around holding a camera? If you've seen the wikileaks video 'Collateral Murder', you'll know that carrying a video camera is a good way to get yourself peppered with rounds from hovering helicopters.

    • Keith M. is obviously a CIA plant who is trying ensure that Canadian support for the Afghan mission doesn't deteriorate further. You'd have to be a pretty dumb reader not to see right through his flimsy cover.

      Stick to providing blog commentary in your own country Spook!

    • Funny how you can read minds just as well. (toidi na er'uoY)

      • Deerga.

    • Anonymous commentators are always the bravest (and the ones most likely to defame or libel someone).

    • You contend our military has been infiltrated by the Taliban. That's a scary thought, but with Stephen Harper's wilfully blind and impotent mandarins running things, it's a possible scenerio!

  4. "Potentially" explosive? This has all the potential of a powder keg with a lit fuse.

    Ya gotta be thankful for Colvin for breaking open the door for others who have seen some things that need to be discussed, but have been cowed by the government.

    • did you read the CBC article?
      No evidence, didn't see anything, wasn't there, heard about it……puleeese, more of the same

  5. Congratulations, everybody. This testimony may be true or it may be a blatant lie (did the translator double as judge to clearly weigh all evidence before declaring individuals innocent, I wonder), but there is nothing "potential" about the explosiveness. But, then, that's what everybody wanted, right away. And now we've got it.

    We have done a tremendous job of shooting ourselves in the foot while our soldiers are still in theatre. We have compromised the ability of our soldiers to safely and effectively carry out their duties. And, I bet, a substantial number of us are bloody proud of it.

    • Also the translator admitted that he was not there when the alleged shooting took place. But that doesn't matter to the bunch who populate this area of the blogosphere.

    • One word: Enlist.

      • If this is what the country back home will smugly do for its soldiers while overseas following orders, why would ANYONE in their right mind choose to enlist?

        • "Serious discussion and debate need not apply."

          To your over-the-top rant about the implications and significance of this particular event? Indeed they don't.

          Anyway, I was merely suggesting that, like all romantics, if you have a surplus need for drama, nobility and grandiosity in your life, enlisting and seeing active combat is one way to satisfy it. Imagine the stories you'd have to tell afterwards?

      • Have been enlisted for quite a while.

    • Just so we're clear then, as you leave open the possibility that this testimony is true, if it IS true, you're saying it's STILL a bad thing that it got out?

      I can't judge the veracity of the claims based on what little I've read so far but for me, hypothetically, if there was even ONE instance of our forces killing an unarmed man and then in the panic afterward rounding up a bunch of villagers from the ages of 10 to 90 and handing them all over to the NDS, then I don't think that should be kept secret, no matter what, and I don't think that that information could come out soon enough.

      Now, that said, I don't think our soldiers likely did act in this manner, but still, I don't think I like your implied "as long as our soldiers are still in theatre, we shouldn't talk about what they're doing in theatre" line of argument. I don't actually think anything going on over here in Canada has really disrupted the operations of our soldiers, but then again, if these allegations were true, would that not be cause for us to disrupt the operations of our soldiers?

      • Just so we're clear then, as you leave open the possibility that this testimony is true, if it IS true, you're saying it's STILL a bad thing that it got out?

        I have been begging for weeks (months?) that we all shut up about it until our soldiers get home. I have never asked that we never explore this issue. If you really care about my past utterances on this topic, I suppose later tonight I will dig in the I.D. archives and offer some links. Let me know.

        • Fighting a war or terrorists does not give license to commit illegal and/or criminal acts.. and sweeping everything under the carpet until the fighting is done is an abandonment of responsibility. The only reason you would do that would be to try to cool a political hot potato down… which is why the Conservatives are risking a contempt of Parliament charge to avoid releasing the unredacted documents.

          • Fighting a war [on] terrorists does not give license to commit illegal and/or criminal acts..

            Care to point out where I give such license?

            …and sweeping everything under the carpet until the fighting is done is an abandonment of responsibility. The only reason you would do that would be to try to cool a political hot potato down… which is why the Conservatives are risking a contempt of Parliament charge to avoid releasing the unredacted documents.

            Obviously not the "only" reason, since it is not my reason. But thanks for playing.

  6. Laurie Hawn is the closest thing to McCarthyism…if you stood Harper sycophant beneath a blue sky and it was in MacKay and Harper's best it interest…Hawn would tell you it was midnight and refuse to acknowledge what the daylight on his own shoulders…this is the sort of government goose stepping fanatics Harper has engaged to do his dirty work for him….is this the sort of country Canadians want?

    • Touche!

  7. ''The witness was accompanied by Amir Attiran,
    a University of Ottawa law professor ( and Iffy's BFF) who has led legal efforts to get the government to release unredacted documents pertaining to the Afghanistan mission.

    At one point, Attiran would not let Ahmadshah answer Hawn's question on whether has an ongoing legal action against the government, telling Hawn he could look it up in the court file.'

    Why waste time on Canadian soldiers,
    Attaran should go after the Afghan government,
    because we are just visiting! They own the country.

    Why go for complicity, when you can go for gold, and get war crimes…….
    this is the part I do not understand.
    Amnesty and Attaran, are they cowards or something?

    • Wilson, what part of international law or Canadian law do you not get where it says 3rd-party nations are complicit in war crimes if we even suspect turning over folks to the NDS are getting tortured?

      • So Paul Martin is war criminal #1 then. He is the logical first person to charge and try. Right. It was his policy that led to the first detainees knowingly turned over for torture. You aren't suggesting we try some soldier or bureaucrat first, are you?

        Paul Martin was the person who decided on the Kandahar mission, on partnering with a nororious governor.

      • Well Scott the esteem witness for Attaran first said that Canadians shot the man in the back of the head and then paniced. Then he said he wasn't even there and just read the reports. When asked where the reports were he says that he had to leave them in A-stan. This guy has more holes in it than the crowns case against Guergis's husband. So how creadible is this guy or are you willing to believe anything that will put the Canada in a bad light?

        • I'm not just talking about this specific fellow's testimony.. I'm talking about the general overall picture where the Conservatives are refusing to let un-redacted documents be seen by either an inquiry or the military police commission, or a parliamentary committee. If you read the first comment of this post, you saw Laurie Hawn trying to not release transcripts of this because he claimed operational security had been breached – even s it's being shown on live tv and was open to reporters and to the public.

          All this attempted secrecy has nothing to do with "national security" and everything to do with trying to shut down anything that can politically embarrass this government or worse, implicate it,

  8. I'd say the govt's bovine excrement has just hit the air redistributor.

  9. I understand he is mad at the gov't because they aren't bringing his family over to Canada… maybe this is his revenge. Other motives also come to mind.