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When first we practiced to deceive


 

The Star’s Rosie DiManno reminds us of a rather salient point:

… Few of those clawing at their faces today in angst and shame over who-knew-what-when-generated hysteria with regard to mistreatment of Afghan detainees have paused to recall how this mess originated.

It’s because Canada picked Afghans over Americans as front-line allies…

Given the toxic view of American forces – no matter that the horrific mistreatment of Iraqi detainees was, at least in terms of supporting evidence, limited to specific rogue units in one notorious facility – it was clearly decided, by who knows whom, Canada could not put detainees in such soiled hands, despite the U.S. being this country’s closest nation-friend.

Someone bought into the dubious premise that the entire American military was not to be trusted and that Afghan wardens, Afghan guards, Afghan officials, were preferable partners in the disposition of detainees, although the only remotely up-to-Western-par prison facility was at the American base in Bagram.

And who was that someone? A Globe editorial reminds us:

In hindsight, the Liberal government of Paul Martin may have been naive in taking the initiative to press for the transfer of detainees to the Afghan authorities, rather than continuing to hand them over to the armed forces of the United States. At the time, Canada was worried by the prospect that Afghans captured by Canadian soldiers might end up in the limbo – or worse – of Guantanamo, Cuba. The government of Afghanistan, having been recently democratically elected, appeared to be a more promising and appropriate recipient for Afghan citizens.

Oops. But can you blame them? Remember the brouhaha over that photo, splashed across the front page of the Globe and Mail, of Canadian JTF2 commandoes shepherding Afghan prisoners for transfer to the Americans? That was in early 2002, when Jean Chretien was prime minister and Art Eggleton was the minister in charge of offering up confused, misleading answers to Parliament — a post later occupied by Gordon O’Connor and now by Peter MacKay.

So the tangled web goes back a ways. As A. Columnist wrote at the time:

But let’s remember why this was an issue in the first place. Mr. Eggleton’s startling revelation, that members of the Joint Task Force 2 commando unit had captured several enemy fighters nearly two weeks ago, was only newsworthy because it contradicted the Prime Minister, who had been saying publicly that no prisoners had as yet been taken. The Prime Minister had said this in order to make the point that the question of what should be done with any prisoners our forces might happen to come across — whether they should be handed over to the American forces, or to some other body — was “hypothetical,” and that as such he was not obliged to take a position on it.

And the reason the Prime Minister took refuge in this non-answer was because he did not wish to confront critics within his own party, who have worked themselves up into a state over the Terrible Wrong that would be committed if Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters were to be delivered into the hands of the Americans…


 

When first we practiced to deceive

  1. "It's because Canada picked Afghans over Americans as front-line allies."

    Sure Rosie. That was the reason.

    God, she's a lazy thinker.

    • Speaking of lazy, did you read the article above? Were you concious prior to 2006, or did you come to this current state in the last few minutes? I clearly recall the horrible hue and cry raised that we would turn over anyone (including the poor terrorists) over to the Americans.

  2. "Someone bought into the dubious premise that the entire American military was not to be trusted"

    It is usual capriciousness from Libs. Libs can't seem to tie themselves with Obama enough at the moment but Americans are the same group of people as they were 10 years ago. I wonder if same decisions would have been made if Mr. hopenchange was in power at the time.

    I would like an inquiry, or some kind of meeting, where we can decide what to do with foreign prisoners. If our armed services are going to continue fighting in god forsaken places, which I hope they are, then we need to decide on policy. Should Canada start thinking about setting up it's own jails abroad, hand them over to Americans or let the locals deal with their own people.

  3. Careful, you two and the unsigned member of the Globe board aren't working with the Established Narrative. Can accusations of personal bloodthirstiness be far behind?

    (Also, excellent choice of tags.)

    • "Careful, you two and the unsigned member of the Globe board…"

      They're all the same person.

      • Coyne secretly lives a double life as DiManno? That's a whole new level of media consolidation…

  4. So according to DimWitto, anti-Americanism is the underlying culprit; "a rather salient point" only in crazy land where partisan political spin is believed to be real.

  5. Actually, read what the former senior NATO official said on the weekend about the Americans and how they operated in Afghanistan, and there may have been good reason not to turn prisoners over to them:

    ""It was not an issue for anyone else, though other nations ought to have been as concerned as the Canadians. The Americans in particular were not remotely squeamish on this. To them, everyone was an enemy combatant."

  6. That all said, even if I were to buy into Rosie's point, or yours, Andrew.. that isn't any excuse for what the Conservative government did and are doing on the Afghanistan file.

    I'll also say that If a public inquiry on this file shows some Liberal Cabinet ministers back then goofed up, so be it. Let the chips fall where they may..but the Conservatives at this point seem unwilling to "shine the light into the dark corners" to quote the Prime Minister at his meeting this weekend (where he took no questions, in a double bit of irony).

    • Yup.

  7. Stop the presses! Liberals Incompetent and Unaccountable!

    My goodness, we should get them out of government right away!

    Oh, wait, we did. Or we thought we did. Tell me again, what was it we fixed?

  8. I wonder how much influence Hillier had on these decisions…they would be getting advice from him wouldn't they?

    There has to come a point where Harper can't blame Liberals for everything he's done wrong – that's weak, cowardly.

    They say Liberals got us into the combat mission….well, duh- Harper made it an issue to extend – that was his decision.

    Remember he also threatened the opposition partes that he'd do his own thing anyway if the didn't agree and put up the phony, last minute debate.

    Enough.

    Harper take responsibilties like a real man.

    • Hillier made them do it!
      Harper sitting in opposition, in a majority Liberal government made them do it !
      And you think Harper is the one who should man up?

  9. Yes, the Conservatives are layering more mistakes on top of errors previously made. So now it’s time for the mistakes and the equivocations and falsehoods to cease. Let’s start doing things right, now, and forget the “pretend we is perfect” routine.

    Oh, yes, there’s the little issue of having to suffer consequences of past misdeeds. Too bad, better keep lying then and see what you can get away with.

  10. When first we practiced to deceive

    Sorry to hijack the thread (but hey, it's not like there aren't 50 others on macelans.ca right now covering this) but…Was hoping this title might finally be a thread dedicated to the hack of the Climate Research Unit.

    Where is our media on this? Is anyone in Canada outside of the blogosphere even aware of this monumental story?

    • So far no information that climate change science is wrong has come to light, and the actions of the hackers themselves were pretty distateful. So I would say probably not, or not the kind of story you want.

      • So far no information that climate change science is wrong has come to light

        Incorrect.

    • "Where is our media on this?"

      You are going to be waiting a long time, I reckon. Canadian reporters are the most incurious bunch of people as possible to imagine.

      I will be very surprised indeed if any Canadian reporter looks at emails other than Lorrie Goldstein and declares that maybe we should have second look at AGW after it has been revealed that scientists are keen to manipulate their work for political ends. But who knows, American and Brit publications are having a look at the issue so maybe I will be pleasantly surprised.

  11. The Liberal government had been in power for eight (8) years when the first detainees were captured Jan 2002, and handed over to the US.

    And yet it still took 3 years and 11 months from that first capture by Canadian soldiers, for the Liberal govt to get in place the ' inadequate' handover agreement, (revised and improved by the Harper govt 18 months later).
    The Liberal agreement with Afghan authorities was approved in May 2005 by Chretien and Graham,
    even with numerous reports from human rights groups detailing extensive torture and 'disappearances' in Afghan prisons, in their hands,
    the handover agreement was signed by Hillier Dec 2005.

    Liberals handed over detainees to (the severely unprepared) Afghan authorities for 3 months before the 'new' Harper govt was sworn in Feb 2006,
    and inherited the mess.
    Liberals are in no position to be pointing fingers at the current government,
    who acted far far quicker and who's response was far superior to the very experienced, 13 year old Liberal government before it.
    Be careful what you wish for Liberals….

    • You don't seem to get it , Wilson. You seem to be implying that a public inquiry would find Liberals guilty of certain things as well.. which it may very well – and therefore we should be shutting up about wanting a public inquiry.

      You know what? Some of us don't care if an inquiry finds Liberal cabinet ministers were guilty of negligence or not. Let the chips fall as they may… why are the Harperites afraid to "shine the light in the dark corners of government" over this Wilson?

      • Let's wait until the war is over before we have the inquiry. We have a job to do in the meantime.

        • Who's we here? Keyboard commandos like you?

          Get over there and fight, you waste of space, if you care so much.

          • We're all one people, one country and the soldiers act and fight in our name: Canada.

            Nice way to show a lack of patriotism.

          • It's not unpatriotic to demand a public inquiry over actions in the high echelons of the military and/or government that may have put us in violation of international law.

          • 'Liberals handed over detainees to (the severely unprepared) Afghan authorities for 3 months before the 'new' Harper govt was sworn in Feb 2006'

            I could have sworn Wilson was posting the libs as handing over detaintees to the Afghans starting 2002 as recent as yesterday….guess she parsed the "facts" a little more closely since.

      • The point to Coyne's article is to shine that light on the entire mess,
        torture and abuse in Afghan prisons did not start the day Harper won government.

        And the Liberal government had well document proof of torture/killings in Afghan jails when Martin/Graham made the decision to hand over detainees to Afghan authorities.

        It just the facts Scott.

    • You are absolutley right Wilson! In point of fact I would add that this is why there will be sound and fury coming from the LPT while they use it as a poltical football however if harper would stand up and say OKAY just like he did with mulroney-Schreiber it would be the LPT that would fall over itself saying but but but but … as I am sure that harper would start the scope of the inquiry in 2002 and then we could have Chretien, Martin and a host of senior staff all lieberal of course – in a weird way the harper is taking the heat for our armed forces right now and we don'
      t need to worry because he will continue to do so and won't call an inquiry and not for the reasons that some think

      • Hopefully testimony coming out in committee will pour cold water on this issue.
        Facts will paint a REALISTIC picture of what our both the Lib and Con govts had to deal with.

        IMO, Colvin is the human rights equivalent of environmentalist Suzuki.
        Neither are realistic, but both are true believers.

        • Gee.. is that what the PMO and Harper's constituency office is now peddling Wilson?

          • I wouldn't know Scott. Those are my thoughts.

          • The Senior Commission Counsel at the Maher Arar inquiry – Paul Cavalluzzo – thinks Colvin was being very realistic, and it is the Conservatives who are looking rather bad:

            Cavalluzzo said O'Connor found that “in situations like that you've got to be more analytical in the sense that you have to look at the human rights record of the country, the human rights records of the detention centre where the person is, and you make an educated decision. “It seems in this instance that's what Mr. Colvin was doing. He didn't see it, obviously, but he recognized it and when he made these reports alarm bells should have rung in Ottawa and a thorough investigation should have occurred at that time. In my view, Colvin was acting quite appropriately … because he has an obligation to bring it forward to his superiors.”

          • The Senior Commission Counsel at the Maher Arar inquiry – Paul Cavalluzzo – thinks Colvin was being very realistic, and it is the Conservatives who are looking rather bad:

            Cavalluzzo said O'Connor found that “in situations like that you've got to be more analytical in the sense that you have to look at the human rights record of the country, the human rights records of the detention centre where the person is, and you make an educated decision. “It seems in this instance that's what Mr. Colvin was doing. He didn't see it, obviously, but he recognized it and when he made these reports alarm bells should have rung in Ottawa and a thorough investigation should have occurred at that time. In my view, Colvin was acting quite appropriately … because he has an obligation to bring it forward to his superiors.”

          • If you knew the slightest thing about Paul Cavalluzzo's political leanings (I do), you would know that Paul Cavalluzzo can be reliably counted on to say stuff that would make the Tories "look rather bad."

          • I believe he's quoting O'Connor.

          • In one part of the story. In much of the rest of the story, he's offering his own take on things. Cavalluzzo is arguably the best known hard-core left wing lawyer in Toronto. I'm quite sure he hates the Tories with every fiber of his being. Yes, he has working knowledge of torture within a legal setting, and that's an important perspective to bring on the situation. But in terms of objectivity, he's about as objective a critic of the Tories as Rick Salutin.

      • Let's see Harper call an inquiry then. The fact of the matter it's his officials and even possibly himself who faces possible war crimes charges of complicity and getting frogmarched to the Hague.

        • Why wouldn't the Liberal government face war crime charges if they were in power when war crimes were committed?

          • Scott says 'let the chips fall where they may',
            so he doesn't care who goes down,
            including our braves soldiers, who would be first to pay the price.

          • Bullcrap, Wilson. As Colvin said, It's our solders NOW who may be already paying the price for the Conservatives looking away at this at the time.

            Really.. I don't know why I should be amazed at the demagoguery you Conservative supporters practice on here.

          • If there were, there were. Harper is more worried apparently what happened on his watch. Why else would he be trying to shut down/muzzle the Military Commissions tribunal, and also why he and his Conservative government don't want a public inquiry?

          • Is guilt of war crimes really the most plausible explanation you can think of? Maybe he's waiting for the Parliamentary commission to finish its hearings, including testimony from Colvin's superiors?

  12. The handling of POWs has been a boondoggle in both the US and Canada. Clearly, there was no easy solution to this problem. You don't want to release dangerous prisoners so that they can attack you again. So you have to incarcerate them yourself (the US route) or hand over them over the locals (Canada's route). Both solutions have their flaws.

    In the US case, the primary flaw was that the system of military tribunals was never allowed to succeed – it dragged on for ages and there was significant opposition from the US populace of the existence of Gitmo and the militarhy tribunals. The Canadian flaw was that once they are handed over you cannot guarantee their proper treatement afterwards.

    Clearly, this is an issue that countries will need to consider more carefully in the future.

  13. So Coyne's only point is that, well, whaddya know, the grotesque lack of leadership on this file cuts both ways. Thanks. And the point is . . . nothing.

    • Desperately Off-Topic:

      Is it now safe to assume that 99 is the ceiling to IntenseDebate's reputation score?

      Not that I much care, but the enforcement of a limit seems odd and arbitrary. I suppose it's a paternalistically beneficent feature of the platform–meant to keep any of us from getting swelled heads (not that it'll have much of a restraining effect on Jarrid, scf, jolyon, etc.). ;)

      • I think it's still too early to tell. At this point I seem to be gaining 1 reputation point every 200 comments or so, and I reached 99 as of 1900 comments. So I think when I hit 2200 comments and I'm still at 99, we'll know that 99 is the limit.

        • 99 isn't the limit. A number of websites use ID, including computer gaming sites where one or two superstars have 5,000 comments and ID scores in the mid-130's (usually because they spew out 50 short, inane comments per day about whatever game they're playing and whatever music they're listening to).

          Jack may become the first ID user in the world to achieve a reputation score of 100 based on substantive, thoughtful commentary rather than an endless stream of noise.

    • Yeah, sometimes his contrarian hair splitting gets up my nose too…and i'm a fan!

  14. Time and time again it's been said – if there was wrongdoing at any point along the line, let's open it up for investigation as see what happened, when, and by who's authority.

    I consider the point about not trusting American treatment of prisoners to be quite justified, given Cheney's stances at the time and the further revelations about his attitude toward treatment of prisoners since he left office. It wasn't just Abu Ghraib.

  15. Trust DiManno to find an anti-American monster under every Canadian bed. Should we suffer an unusually cold and long winter this year, she'll be the first one to blame David Orchard.

    Rosie, dear, Canada "picked Afghans over Americans as front-line allies" because our mission required it: we're there, remember, to train an indigenous, effective, independent Afghan army. This can happen only if those we are mentoring stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us, consistently, on the field during active operations. Yes, we could have played it safe and hung around the cool American kids, but we were rather more interested in actually achieving our primary mission objectives.

    Yeah, I know–typical Canadian, left-lib, can't-do attitude. How on earth do you put up with us, Rosie?

    • Rosie Demento hasn't made any sense for as long as I can remember. At best, her wild swings, both in ideology and writing style, quite often within the same paragraph are off-putting.

  16. "It's because Canada picked Afghans over Americans as front-line allies…'

    AC, how did you fall for that pile of dung so easily? Shame on you!
    Funny how every other ally of note over there came to the same decision as we did…eventually…it'a called politics – you may have heard of it…i believe it's sometimes generated by public opinion – perish the thought.

    How could you fall so easily for that old chestnut…it just had to be latent liberal anti-Americanism? Get in line Canada, behind the Brits, the Dutch, the Franch, the Germans [ ok i'm guessing about those last two] We had a hell of a lot more reason to be wary of the Yankees than one incident that so delighted Steyn. I believe there was still a tag team called Bush/Cheney still around at the time too!
    But by all means use your x ray hindsight to pin it on Anti-Americanism

    • "Remember the brouhaha over that photo, splashed across the front page of the Globe and Mail, of Canadian JTF2 commandoes shepherding Afghan prisoners for transfer to the Americans? That was in early 2002"

      Early 2002 is at least one year before second Iraq War started and the left's obsession with BUSH/Cheney = Hitler = war crimes = book ban in libraries = halliburton meme. I was living abroad at time, so I don remember brouhaha, but why the outrage in early 2002 if not knee jerk anti-Åmericanism?

      • Good spotting on the dates. But if i'm not mistaken we "did" hand over our detainees to the Us [ and were under their command structure] until the frst transfer agreement in 2005. So ithink my point about us not being the only ones to have a reason to distrust the Americans holds up.
        I'm not trying to deny that anti-Americanism isn't a problem amongst many on the left. [ and throughout the country]
        I just resent the assumption by AC and this journo that it "had' to be down to AA'm. Even liberals are capable of having more than one motive for doing anything [ this applies to cons as well of course…indeed i'm told it's a common human trait.] But AC isn't the only contrarian here…i certainly wouldn't put it past Martin to play to such a negative view of the US.

    • Yes, Anti-Americanism has never ever been a motivating factor in any Canadian government's thinking. In fact, I doubt that any Canadian politician or political party has ever adopted any policy or position with a view to playing to anti-American sentiment.

      • If you see my post above i think you'll see i was not arguing any such thing. I just dispute that might be the overrriding factor…there were others.

        • The other factors would of course be the unfolding doubts about the B/Cheney regime. it doesn't rule out AA'm as a factor, but to hold it up as the reason for our current problems is a wild overreach IMHO.

      • In fact, I doubt that any Canadian politician or political party has ever adopted any policy or position with a view to playing to anti-American sentiment.

        Just here to let you know, Orson, that your attempt at irony is hitting a bit of a pothole–as what you're archly "doubting" is actually an indisputable historical fact. Care to try again?

  17. Andrew,

    Pundit dung of the first order sir.
    Truth be told I have come to expect more than shoddy, lazy, and such obviously pro-PC partisan analysis from you. Sadly, you seem to be intent on obfuscating the issue at hand.

    Really sir, it is not the historical paternity tale of our Afghan Detainee Policy (ADP) that is germane at this point, it is the current Government of Canada's inability to straightforwardly address the known issues of abuse. Our current government's shameful effort to censure and attack those who would speak truth to power can not go unchallenged. Our current government's absolute failure to be transparent on this issue must be challenged.

    I care not what stripe our government of the day wears (PC Blue or Lib Red) it's irrelevant. Fact is, the government of the day, the government TODAY, owes us all an explanation. Do they, in OUR name, as OUR government participate in and/or condone and abet illegal war practices that any reasonable Canadian would deem inhumane treatment? Did they, do they, support policies that knowingly lead to the torture other human beings? It's a simple questions that deserves an honest answer. What Paul Martin did in 2005 is, of course, important. More importantly, however, now that more facts are known, is WHAT IS STEPHEN HARPER HAS (OR HAS NOT) DONE to live up to our international legal obligations to not torture other human beings?

    • Amen. Get Coyne off the public broadcasters, at the very least. This complex world doesn't need any more deliberate distractions of the type Coyne is so skilled at crafting.

    • Hey what happened to my comment?

    • Maybe you missed the 2004 report from the Afghan Human Rights group,
      detailing torture and killings in Afghan jails…..that was BEFORE the Lib got handed detainees over to Afghan jails.
      And they did so for 3 months prior to the Harper government swearing in.

      • As I said earlier, the party in power has no bearing on this issue. For sake of argument: if you had a suspicion that an old Priest had abused your poor child in 2005, but he was then replaced by a new priest who (undeniably) was continuing to do the same: who would you be looking to stop first? The old guy whose no longer there? Or the guy that has taken his place and that is still buggering your child?

        In this case, the Con & Lib labels need not apply- all that matters is that the abuse has stopped! So the onus of proof is on Ottawa – and that, sir, regardless of their political stripe means we are absolutely entitled to absolute government transparency on this issue.

        • Wilson doesn't care about that Fat Arse.. she's looking at this in a totally partisan Conservative light and trying to pin the blame on the Liberals, as if that somehow will chill the calls for a public inquiry.

          • You know nothing about me, or what motivates me, Scott.
            If you did, you wouldn't keep accusing me of working for the CPC.
            I have never even been to so much as a riding meeting, ever,
            and I did not vote CPC in 2008.

          • Nothing motivates you. You're a troll.

          • pot, kettle, black

          • God, that never gets old.

            Google "wilson" and "Liberals" and you'll see.

          • She certainly never, ever lets one word of criticism of this govt pass her lips, which should tell you something anyway.

          • That was uncalled for

          • I know I've not seen 1 single solitary post from you on any of the Progressive or Liberal blogs you've trolled that does anything but try to give spin for the Conservative government when they're being criticized.

            My accusations of you working for the CPC are slightly facetious, but from what you post, I'm surprised you haven't been offered a position with them yet.

          • Umm, charges of spin and partisanship in posting are a bit rich coming from you, don't you think?

            To wit:

            http://scottdiatribe.canflag.com/

          • Glad you can find/read my blogsite, Orson. Unlike Wilson however, I can and have leveled criticism at my particular party of choice, and I'm not trying to claim I'm not a supporter of the particular party I support, as Wilson is on here claiming.

            I'm also on record as saying on here I don't care if a public inquiry were to find Liberal Cabinet Ministers of the past guilty of negligence or not on this detainees transfer/torture file. If they did so, then it's just as wrong and they should be prosecuted just as they should be if Conservative Ministers or current military/bureaucratic officials have done so.

  18. Or here for that matter.
    "The prisoners exhibit none of the qualifying criteria. They fight in the service of no recognized government. They have made it abundantly clear that for them, the fighting is never over: They will kill their captors if they can, and kill again the minute they are let loose. And Afghanistan doesn't want them: indeed, the country's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, has explicitly endorsed the American view, that they are "unlawful combatants." What, then, is left of the critics' position? That, although these are clearly not prisoners of war, a tribunal should be empanelled to make the same finding about each of them, one at a time. Fine. But it's not as if the issue is in any doubt. These folks weren't pulled out of a police lineup. They were captured on the field of battle
    Given that we are now told many of them may have been day soldiers, taxi drivers and farmers – hindsight's a bitch…as i am sure you'd be the first to agree.

  19. "At first, the Guantanamo hysterics claimed that the prisoners held there were being "tortured." When this was disproved — the worst the Red Cross, which has had unrestricted access to the prisoners from the start, could say was that they had been photographed — the issue became the conditions in which they were being held".

    "That is, until reporters toured the camp, and found that conditions of life for the prisoners compared rather favourably with that of the Marines standing watch over them.'"
    We didn't exactly cover ourselves in glory here AC did we?

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