'Detaining the local yokels and handing them off' - Macleans.ca

‘Detaining the local yokels and handing them off’


The CBC reviews testimony from the MPCC hearings that indicates Canadian Forces were pressured by Ottawa to transfer detainees as quickly as possible. Separately, Canadian Press reports that Afghan officials refused to accept detainees from Canada this summer due to “insufficient evidence.”

Meanwhile, Ujjal Dosanjh and Claude Bachand call on all leakers, whistleblowers and seconders to step forward.

Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh and Bloc Quebecois MP Claude Bachand said they would like to see more leaks from bureaucrats unhappy with the way Afghans captured by the Canadian military were handled…

“It’s an honourable thing to do when a government is not telling you the truth, if you can find an ethical way with integrity to actually expose the lies that the government tells every day in the House,” Dosanjh told reporters.

Said Bachand: “People who have a conscience, and find this is not right, it’s time for them to say it’s not right.”


‘Detaining the local yokels and handing them off’

  1. I eagerly await the conservative talking point that Brig.-Gen. David Fraser and Lt.-Col. Tom Putt are attacking the troops.

    It's hard for people to keep saying that Colvin's way off base in suggesting that some of the people we rounded up and sent to the Afghans may have just been locals caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time now that we have a Lt. Col. who was on the ground basically saying the same thing. That another Lt. Col. (Chris LeMay) has testified that the AFGHAN authorities, in 2009, asked to stop taking prisoners from us, because there was insufficient evidence that some of the prisoners we wanted to hand over were actually guilty of anything, is also quite stunning.

    This could unravel quickly for the government if this is the sort of thing that's going to start coming out. Commanders on the ground being pressured by Ottawa to hand over prisoners more quickly than they deemed appropriate. Afghan authorities refusing to take prisoners from us because there was insufficient evidence the prisoners had done anything wrong. I think we really are going to need a public inquiry.

    • It is NOT difficult to say Colvin was incorrect. Please provde links to the numbers of "farmers" rounded up. The military did not disclose sufficient information to the satisfaction of the NDS who released them, upon pressure from local elders.

      I trust our sons and daughters to have conducted themselves within the rules of ISAF.

      You apparently trust elders, NDS officials who may have had some higher standard?

      I will continue to trust our Military and how they conducted their operations.

      • If you will continue to trust our Military and how they conducted their operations (so will I), you must therefore trust Fraser and Putt, yes? And they said "local yokels" and "transferred too fast", so how is it you are blaming NDS officials? But most burningly important at this second, you are saying the Afghan authorities (and we have incontrovertable evidence that they have practiced torture) have higher standards than WE do, yet you don't see anything wrong?

        • Jenn,

          No one is denying abuse or torture "may" have taken place in regards to some of the detainee's in the second most corrupt country in the world. I take offence with the goal of the opposition and armchair quarterbacks from the safety of their couches with 20/20 hindsight now trying to find fault in 2009. Are you suggesting the witchunt for a few isolated cases will not affect our military? The Somailia Inquiry did a great deal of damage to our military. (That is my reference to the damage to our military)

          Does the average Canadian care about the mission? Does the average Canadian care about some isolated cases of abuse or torture by Afghan nationals on the detainees?

          The extension of the mission barely passed in the HOC with the Bloc, NDP and majority of Liberals voting against the mission. Has this witchunt to lay blame at the feet of high ranking government officials by the opposition and some in the media will NOT affect our military adversely?

          • For you, Canadian Sense, there is a poem by A.R. Ammons that I appreciate. I think you might too:

            One can't / have it / both ways / and both / ways is / the only / way I / want it.

          • "armchair quarterbacks from the safety of their couches with 20/20 hindsight now trying to find fault in 2009"

            Surely you have some disdain left over for the armchair quarterbacks from the safety of NDHQ telling people like Lt. Col. Patt, at the time, to hurry up and hand their prisoners (including mere "local yokels") over to the Afghans within 12 hours???

            "The Somalia Inquiry did a great deal of damage to our military".

            With respect, a small group of rogue soldiers torturing a teenager did a great deal of damage to our military.

          • Did you read the Final Report from the Public Inquiry? Did the LPOC led government cut the Inquiry short?

            What would make you think this time it would be any different? Defence Minister Art Eggleton, the third Liberal to serve in the portfolio in the past year, had a swift and angry reaction to the report.

            Eggleton said the report went too far with its blanket condemnation of the military. "It presents an excessively negative view of the Canadian forces," he said.

            [The military lied to the government. This sets a dangerous precedent suggesting that the military is not answerable to anyone for what it does.]


            The commission investigating the 1993 murder of a Somali teenager by Canadian soldiers issued its final report in Jul 1997. It found evidence of a coverup by military and government officials and recommended major changes to prevent this happening again. Liberal officials attacked the report.

            Read more: http://www.faqs.org/abstracts/News-opinion-and-co

          • You seem to mistake me for someone who believes "my" party is always right. I believe former Prime Minister Campbell when she said she asked a direct question to the military command, and received a direct lie–staring straight into her eyes–in response.

            I don't care who does it, it is unacceptable!

          • "The Somailia Inquiry did a great deal of damage to our military. (That is my reference to the damage to our military)"

            You've got to be kidding! So, in order to avoid "damage" to our military, it is much better to have murderers and thugs AS our military, and never question a thing they do in our name. I respect our men and women in uniform as dedicated professionals–not murderers and thugs. I truly hope we aggressively pursue and weed out the murderers and thugs that may, on occasion, infest the ranks. Both for the country's sake, and the proud men and women who serve us. In this case, they are not among the military rank and file, but appear to infect their highest command.

            My ethics do not rely on what others think about an issue. I am personally deeply concerned at the suggestion that our military were ordered to hand over detainees to authorities our government knew were likely to torture them. I cannot believe you (or anyone at all) would actually come out with the old "we must protect the military from the crimes we committed and are trying to blame them for."

          • All those "armchair quarterbacks … with 20/20 hindsight " worked out satisfactorily at Nurembuerg

      • "I mean, we were basically capturing a local yokel… detaining the local yokels and handing them off." Lt.-Col. Tom Putt.

        So, when you say you trust our military, are you not including Lt.-Col. Putt? Now, true, I don't have precise numbers as to how many "local yokels" our forces detained and handed over, but I trust the testimony of a Lieutenant Colonel who was in theater and says our Forces did turn over "local yokels", and furthermore that they were pressured by Ottawa to do so more rapidly than the commanders on the ground deemed prudent.

        As for "NDS officials who may have had some higher standard", are you seriously suggesting that the NDS had, or may have had, a higher standard for determining the guilt of detainees than our own Forces??? How can you simultaneously claim that you trust our military, while suggesting that they may have had a lower standard for determining the guilt of those they detained than the Afghan intelligence service did? I refuse to believe there is any way in which the NDS conducts their operations to a higher standard than that followed by our men and women in uniform, but if it's true, I blame the policy makers in Ottawa (whether in suits or in uniforms), not the CF personnel on the ground.

        • The GSR residue was not enough for NDS? Ottawa set up the "operational" rules for the detainees and the rules for holding them? Link please.

          Are these standards or rules not from ISAF?

          • "The GSR residue was not enough for NDS?"

            Wait, so now you're saying NDS had a LOWER standard of proof??? I can't refute X if you can then immediately change your position to "Not X".

            As for your link, did you not even read the links Wherry provided?

            <quote>The moment a detainee was captured, Fraser said, he had to notify his boss in Ottawa, Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier.

            "As soon as I got a detainee, I would phone him," Fraser said, adding the question he got back was: "How fast could we get them to hand over to the Afghan authorities?"

            Fraser, who was in charge of Canadian troops in Afghanistan in 2006, said the question puzzled him because he didn't understand the need for speed.

            Neither did Putt, who was Fraser's deputy and the commander responsible for the handling of detainees. He said the government's unofficial goal for transfer was 12 hours.

            But it was difficult to get the prisoners back to base in Kandahar and they often required medical treatment, all of which took time.

            Putt said he resisted Ottawa's calls for speed, sometimes because it was difficult to find an Afghan authority for the transfer.

            "We took a bit of heat on that from Ottawa," Putt told investigators. "' Move, move, move,' [but] we can't. … There's no one to hand them off to in the police station, you know?"</quote>

            Sounds to me like exactly what I expected was going on. Officers and troops on the ground were trying to do the right thing, and they were getting pressure from superiors in Ottawa to "Move, move, move.." and hand over prisoners more quickly than was warranted, or advisable.

          • And who was pressuring the superiors in Ottawa? CON talking bots definitely don't want to know…

          • That's an important point. I have little doubt that if Gauthier was pressuring the troops on the ground it was because he was getting pressure from those above him.

        • Although I haven't read the transcript, the article doesn't seem to say that "local yokels" were innocent farmers (as Colvin seemed to say), but that they were not high-level Taliban or Al-Quaeda. "Putt's testimony also suggests Canadian troops frequently weren't capturing high-value Taliban targets…"I mean, we were basically capturing a local yokel "".

          • Well, the "not high-level Taliban or Al-Qaeda" is the article writer's description, whereas "local yokels" is the Lt, Col.'s description. I take your point, and perhaps we need some more detail but, "high-value" target or not, "local yokel" doesn't seem like the sort of term a Lt. Col. would apply to men who were actively fighting our troops, does it?

          • Well, Hillier calls them "scumbags" which also doesn't seem a technical term, although obviously much more emotionally charged. Without more context, it's hard to judge, but "local yokel" might be equivalent to "cannon fodder".

  2. Wonder what happened in the Gauthier-Hillier axis?

    • <a hef="http://www.cbc.ca/politics/insidepolitics/2009/12/blatchford-on-colvin-corrected-version.html">Wow.

      So Blatchford misattributed quotes from someone else to Colvin, glossed over the fact that she was referring to documents that weren't actually released to the Committee until a week after she wrote her column, and she claimed in the column that Colvin had only made one trip outside of the wire when in fact he had made several.

      The mistakes themselves are crazy, but even stranger is the correction, which A) doesn't mention WHO misattributed the quotes (that would be Blatchford), B) glosses over the fact that Blatchford apparently had the documents before the committee did, and doesn't mention how that's possible and C) simply mentions that all of these myriad errors and falsehoods "appeared in a column", mentioning neither who's column they appeared in, nor making any apology whatsoever for the colossal mistakes.

      Nice "Correction" there G&M.

  3. I guess when Dosanjh loses his influence and the right wing of the Liberal party takes it back from the lefties like him and Red Bob Rae he can move to Quebec and become a separatist.This guy is guaranteed to lose the next election.Many of my south Asia friends finding him embarrassing to try and continue to accuse our military of all kinds of things based on a Terrorist testimony.they say he is toast in the next election,Many new Canadians are ashamed of him

    • You're an embarrassment for refusing to see that its THE government that needs to be accountable here, that refuses to be accountable and is so afraid of being accountable that they HIDE behind our forces and even USE them to deflect heat away from their own scaredy-cat hide. The emperor and all his talking-point bots have no clothes… Quick, to the Sally Ann!

    • I normally don't rag on people for typos, but if your comment is going to include references to a former cabinet minister as "embarrassing", someone of whom many people are "ashamed", and you're going to further suggest that said former cabinet minister may be a closet separatist, you really need to make sure "Canadian" is spelled correctly in your nom de plume.

  4. Hmmm I tired to work in a working link and I failed too. Let's try that AGAIN.

    • So Blatchford's a Tory mole…who woulda guessed!

  5. By the way, if anyone wants to help Dosanjh out with motivating further leaks, you can find the names of some relevant government officials in the "to" and "cc" lines of Colvin's memos. And you can find emails and phone numbers in the government electronic directory. If the official is now posted overseas, you'll have to go to dfait-maeci.gc.ca and look for their overseas phone book.

  6. Shoot, I forgot to mention it was a nice switch from the usual "they did it too" wording.