The risk -

The risk


CBC gets hold of a summer 2009 warning about Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security.

The Conservative government was warned last summer that working with the Afghan secret police would lead to allegations Canada condoned abuse and that Canadians could face legal liability for complicity in torture. The information, contained in a candid top-level government memo shared with CBC News, shows that officials were worried that Canada’s relationship with the Afghan National Directorate of Security was risky — and possibly illegal — even while the government was defending it.

The document warns that the directorate, or NDS, is so secretive, even Canada and its allies are in the dark about much of what it does. The NDS has wider powers of arrest and detention than most intelligence agencies, the memo says, and as a result, “there is considerable scope for the use of improper methods.” Engaging with the NDS “entails a degree of risk to Canadian interests,” it adds.

Terry Milewski’s full report is here.


The risk

  1. Strange thing about this story is that there appears to be no mention of the sender or the receiver of the memo, or any follow-up memo(s)/minutes of meetings etc that resulted from it.

  2. another thing, do you notice NOBODY cares….

    • And yet here YOU are, again.

    • Seems the Conservatives didnt care much about the warning anyways. The sure DO care about who finds out though dont they.

    • I dunno; it seems people care enough to come into everyone of these threads and inform us how little people care.

  3. I care

      • I voted for the government in 2008.

        I care enough that I won't be voting for them again without a true investigation.

        I guess that means three of us care.

  4. Thank you Ms. Clinton, but we will leave in 2011. We are clearly in well over our heads…

  5. A little less conversation, a little more action, please.

    I've heard enough of these memoranda to believe there's cause for an investigation.

    • Wait, does that mean a "Public" investigation, or a public investigation? And should we invite the public?

  6. Breaking news…bad stuff happens during war, who knew? Not completely familiar with the ROE, but I suspect handing prisoners over to the legal authority of a sovereign state you are engaged in helping secure their war torn land (who speak the language) is pretty standard stuff. No they are not nice guys. yes they are "nicer" than the previous legal authority, but is any one planning a holiday there? Gee I wonder what Pollyanna would do?

    • It has nothing to do with the ROE's. It has to do with being a sigantory to the Geneva Conventions (like all democratic nations). They specifically say you can not hand over detainees to probable/likely or known torture. Period.

      • Not gonna bother to check, but I strongly suspect that "irregulars/terrorists/patriots? are not included because they are not "legally" recognized as combatants of a nation state…the Bush dodge. In a sense they are criminals and god knows Afstan is tough on crime.

        • It doesn't differentiate. Whether the person is part of a signatory or non. Uniformed or non. Combatant or non. If you are a signatory (we are) then you do not torture, and you do not hand off *anybody* to a situation where it is likely that they will face torture. It really is a full stop.

        • Yeah, the whole "these people aren't legitimate enemy combatants" doesn't work in this case I don't think. There are those that argue that these detainees don't fall under the definition of "prisoner of war", and therefore aren't necessarily entitled to the type of treatment afforded to prisoners of war, however I'm believe the "don't torture detainees, nor hand them over to those that will" clause isn't an entitlement that the Geneva Conventions restrict only to legal POWs. I'm pretty sure that under the Geneva Conventions we're not allowed to torture ANYONE, regardless of their status as a combatant and/or POW, and the same applies to our obligation not to hand prisoners over to likely torturers.

          Even if one subscribes to the "these people aren't legal enemy combatants" argument, that doesn't give us a pass on torture. You're not allowed to torture (or hand over for torture) "unlawful combatants" either.

      • Don't do that. Mentioning the Geneva Convention really upsets the Conbots, kinda like using metric.

    • "bad stuff happens during war, who knew?"

      See, you just wrote your own punchline. Who knew? That's what we're trying to find out.

      Inadvertant comedy gold.

      • Too true

  7. On to the larger issue.
    As one of the fighting members of NATO in Afghanistan…..
    Fact 1: we stopped turning over prisoners to the US – cause they mistreat (and even torture) their prisoners.
    Fact 2: we stopped turning prisoners over to the Afghans – cause they mistreat and torture their prisoners.

    Why are we engaged in a war with allies that are war criminals?

  8. This is like complaining it's too dangerous to turn over criminals to the police. The NDS handles most of the prisoner transfers, many of them happening without any paperwork occurring at all. Canadian Forces are there to provide security, not ensure the transitional change from endemic torture in Asia to one that is spick and span. You may as well ask for a pot of gold while you're dreaming on.

    As for the "larger issue" here, defeating the Taliban would end the alleged torture. Can you imagine refusing to save the Jews from concentration camps because a couple of Germans were roughed up after Canadian soldiers interned them? GIVE ME A BREAK.

  9. The Candian forces represent Canada. We are signatories to the Geneva convention. We don't torture. We don't condone torture, and we don't enable torture. Suggesting that it's okay if we do because the alternatives are difficult is not only lazy, it's demeaning to Canada and Canadians.

    Or in short.

    Piss off.

    • Inspired eloquence from the morally superior, oh I so wish I lived in your taliban black/white worldview where evil doers are so easily differentiated and inaction is an option and second guessing a canon.

      • And here I just wished you lived in the real world.

        In some things evil-doers are easily differentiated. Here's one easy way to tell the difference. Ready?

        Evil-doers don't have problems with torture.

      • oh I so wish I lived in your taliban black/white worldview where evil doers are so easily differentiated

        So, you're saying that in your world it's not so easy to differentiate evil doers, and things aren't so black and white, but you think it's OK to torture people???

        Sorry, but I'll take Thwim's "inaction", which prevents innocent people from being tortured, to your manly action under which innocent people will almost certainly be tortured.

        • Put on your thinking hat…you're a young Canuk in the field…several of your friends have been seriously injured and killed by an IED…you stop a vehicle and the bomb dogs react positive…your prisoners speak no english or french and you speak no pashtun (or whatever). The legal , recognized government's policy is for you to turn your prisoners over to them…you comply. I am curious how that makes our soldiers war criminals and /or torturers.

          We are a junior partner in a big alliance. OUR people are getting killed, we have no political say in the endeavor other than betray or abandon our allies…one of whom about 75% of our GDP is generated from trading with…or not…the world is in a precarious financial state…YOUR job may well depend on that trade…careful about cutting off your nose to spite your face…that is a simplified realpolitik analysis. Every Liberal MP knows it…their posturing is disgraceful.

  10. "As for the "larger issue" here, defeating the Taliban would end the alleged torture."

    Can you back up this statement at all? There's clear evidence that the NDS has institutionalized torture – why would that change in a post-Taliban world?

    "Can you imagine refusing to save the Jews from concentration camps because a couple of Germans were roughed up after Canadian soldiers interned them?"

    Metaphor FAIL. Give me a break indeed.

    • "There's clear evidence that the NDS has institutionalized torture"

      Exactly. So why are we cherry-picking the treatment of Taliban detainees? That's called intellectual and moral dishonesty at its best.

      But winning the war would end the so-called "complicity" of foreign troops. Then it would just be Afghans torturing Afghans and people like you wouldn't give a sh*t.

      • The point, Adrian, is that we have a responsibility to ensure people we capture are not tortured. The Conservative government has assured us all along that that wasn't happening. They lied to us.

      • By the way, since you dodged this:

        "As for the "larger issue" here, defeating the Taliban would end the alleged torture."

        Can you back up this statement at all?

        • Yeah. It's called "logic". If we were no longer fighting the Taliban, then it would just be Afghans torturing Afghans and we'd be safely in Canada, blissfully ignorant. Just how you like it, I'm sure.

  11. Mr. McNair, wake up and smell the fact that this is a guerrilla war. To defeat the Taliban, we have to provide and support a clearly moral alternative to the enemy's to avoid creating more recruits for the Taliban.

    What pissed off US leaders most about Abu Ghiraib? The fact that it served as a recruiting tool for Iraqi insurgents.

    What the **** do you think the Taliban does every time an innocent farmer gets picked up in a Canadian security sweep is tortured by government police or security units? They bring all of his family and friends and neighbors together, they point to the guy's scars, they hand him a retread AK and say "who's side are you on now, guys?"

    By providing a motivation for Taliban recruiting, lazy Canadian government policy appears to have provided aid and comfort to the enemy. I, for one, think that's a possibility worth an investigation.

    • Ah the "innocent farmer" NDP talking point. Brian, do some research. I beg of you. There is a 70% approval rating for ISAF.

      • So the "larger issue" gets settled by helping one of two morally bankrupt factions take over their country so we can leave them to torture with impunity????

        And you believe some stupid opinion poll that was cooked to provide media cover in NATO countries?

        Go on back to your lair, MacNair and get six more weeks of sleep before you tackle weighty issues.