Only a dozen - Macleans.ca
 

Only a dozen


 

Canwest talks to the current warden of Sarpoza prison in Afghanistan.

Prisoners were tortured at Sarpoza Prison in Afghanistan, but not in nearly the numbers alleged this past week by a Canadian diplomat, the prison’s chief warden has told Canwest News Service.

“Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten,” chief warden Col. Abdullah Bawar said Saturday during an interview conducted inside the prison’s heavily guarded walls. “Hands and legs would be tied and they would be beaten with cables. I even remember one man who broke his leg from a beating.”

Although his timeline was a bit fuzzy as to when such abuses stopped, Bawar estimated that “around 100 prisoners” from a population of about 1,100 had been physically abused during 2006 and 2007, which he referred to as “this dark period.” The information Bawar offered makes it nearly impossible to say precisely how many — if any — of the abused prisoners would have been handed over by Canadian troops. A rough estimate suggests it may have only been as many as a dozen.

In a separate analysis, David Pugliese estimates Canada may have turned over nearly 600 detainees. Former diplomat Harry Sterling says the Colvin paper trail should be easy to follow. And CBC posts the report that, if I’m not mistaken, momentarily brought a halt to transfers in November 2007.


 

Only a dozen

  1. There's a difference between the following three scenarios:

    (1) Canadian soldiers torture a detainee.
    (2) Canadian soldiers hand detainees over to Afghan authorities, who then torture them.
    (3) Canadian soldiers stop handing detainees over to Afghan authorities after finding out that they're being tortured.

    People who draw comparisons to Somalia are insinuating the first, even though no evidence for it exists.
    People who insist on the second, rather than the third, have yet to provide evidence so far as I know.

    Until evidence exists that (2) happened, but not (3), people (and by "people" I mean "Wherry") should probably stop trying to tar the military in order to slime the Conservatives.

    • Let's cut the crap, both 2 and 3 are what's happened here and the government has no good excuse for it.

      • You're very quick to jump to this conclusion. Do you have evidence beyond Colvin's word?

    • Well, the only way we'll find out which happened is if there's some sort of investigation, which the Conservatives have recently ruled out. Fine, let's not point fingers until we know all the relevant information, but how about we start looking for that information?

  2. "I even remember one man who broke his leg from a beating.”

    Well, I think that pretty much closes this case. I mean, if the guys we handed over to Afghan torturers only had their legs broken or suffered other kinds of trivial maiming, we needn't bother with an inquiry. The damage done was clearly minor, and, as Jarrid and other Harperoids would point out, we obviously oversaw a higher standard of prisoner care than the Taliban do.

    So let's move on to more important things, like getting our prime minister to do another number for us. I hear he's taking requests…

  3. This is quite astonishing. The warden of an Afghan prison admits to torture, but the Canadian DefMin, former CDS, and the PM still cannot bring themselves to admitting it.

  4. It's Peter Mackay's statements (and logic) that are torturous:

    There's never been any evidence of any torture … but we halted prisoner transfers and implemented a stronger agreement. (Huh?)

    Colvin's statements are absurd on their face and he can't be trusted … yet he's a valued and respected member of our diplomatic and intelligence community in Kabul, then Kandahar, now Washington, DC. (What?)

    Colvin's testimony is tantamount to Taliban propaganda …. yet he volunteered to take over for Glyn Berry after he was assassinated by the Taliban. (B.S.!)

    It is simply unacceptable that Mr. MacKay, who has a long history of false statements and character assassination, is permitted to remain in a top Cabinet post. Indeed, one of the principal failures of Harper's government is that people like MacKay suffer no penalty for their continued disrespect of the House, of the public service and of the public. But then again, Harper himself has never really had a problem with uttering falsehoods in the House.

    • "It is simply unacceptable that Mr. MacKay, who has a long history of false statements and character assassination, is permitted to remain in a top Cabinet post"

      He broke his own leg to get there.

    • Harper's dilemma is that MacKay is actually one of the few CPC caucus members who come close to being cabinet material. Harper can't afford to fire any of the incompetents on his front bench, because the replacement pool is full of even weaker links.

  5. I just read Christina Lamb in Sunday Times and she writes about how she has known Karzai for twenty years and the few occasions they spent time together. Anyways, Lamb mentions briefly that a minister in Karzai government tried to sell her an Al-Qaeda prisoner.

    Clearly Afghans have different 'cultural' ways then we do but how do we ensure Canadian forces are whiter than white while our allies are behaving like medieval torturers?

    • how do we ensure Canadian forces are whiter than white while our allies are behaving like medieval torturers?

      We set up a separate POW camp with allies with similar values (eg. Dutch, Germans). It's not that logistically complicated. It would cost slightly more.

      • "It's not that logistically complicated."

        Says you. Do you think it would be better if Canada had its own Gitmo?

        I bet the international agreements Canadian PMs have signed on to over the years makes it exceedingly difficult for our troops to house prisoners. It would not surprise me in the least if our forces thought it was far easier to hand over POWs than set up our own jail system in a foreign country that would comply with international law.

        • I'm sure it's easier to just hand them to somebody else, but for God's sake, we're talking about the Canadian Army. They know how to do stuff. They are not a PTA meeting.

          • I wonder how much the events in Somalia fifteen years ago influences our prisoner policy today. Maybe Canadian Forces and pols decided that not keeping prisoners was the way to go, that we should let locals be the jailers of their own people. There are obvious limitations to our policy of handing POWs over but it is better than Canadians being implicated directly in torture.

  6. And much ink was spent, when the Martin Liberals first drafted this deal in Dec 2005.
    Amnesty Int'l even took the detain issue to court,
    asking for Charter rights for Afghan prisoners,
    they lost that case.

    ''…The Karzai government, though not opposed in principle to taking the detainees, was not in any hurry to do so, pointing out that it was not ready with adequate prison capacity.
    That should have been a hint that Afghan jailers might not meet Western professional corrections standards.
    But Canada pushed ahead with the transfer agreement, which was signed by General Rick Hillier on Canada's behalf in the last months of the Martin government…''

    Note too that Martin and Graham approved the agreement in May 2005.

    • Try to live in the present.

    • And Harper’s Tories as well as liberals defended it…what was your point again?

  7. I have to admit, I'm a lot more skeptical of Wherry's axe-grinding after seeing the whole "partisan stimulus spending" accusation thrown, harped on incessantly for weeks, and then dropped as soon as it turned out to be baseless without any kind of apology or repudiation.

    Wherry lost a lot of credibility with me from that episode. The CPC already had very little with me; that remained unchanged. The LPC was already well into sub-zero credibility territory; that has also remained unchanged.

    • There was nothing "Baseless" about it. The facts pretty much show the Cons are involved in mass pork barrel spending favoring their own ridings.

      • The only point the Tories successfully made was that this sort of thing had been going on forever. Which is significant since this was pretty much what the Tories, and SH promised to end. So what did AW get wrong again?

    • I'm a little surprised you're saying it was not until:

      "partisan stimulus spending" accusation thrown, harped on incessantly for weeks, and then dropped as soon as it turned out to be baseless without any kind of apology or repudiation

      Wherry has been pulling the same schtick for much longer than that. Suuad Mohamud was the most blatant that I know of. But it's always been his modus operandi.

      • His bias was always evident in that his mockery is generally directed at the CPC, but in my view the CPC deserves a lot of it and, in any case, mockery of the side to which I tend to be most sympathetic is a good thing: it helps me see the other point of view.

        Where I began to lose respect for his work was in seeing that truth is not even his goal, let alone his achievement. He's just out for partisan points, and even if they come from serious allegations that turn out to be bogus, he doesn't walk them back. That's pretty low.

        What I wouldn't give for a hard-left, articulate, intellectually honest, and open-minded point of view on these boards. The problem, I think, is that at least two of these characteristics are in mutual contradiction.

        • You don't seem slow to me.

          The problem, I think, is that at least two of these characteristics are in mutual contradiction.

          That's the way I see it – particularly hard-left and intellectually honest. They seem like a contradiction to me. Impossible, the way the left defines itself these days. Maybe also open-minded and hard-left are not possible. Very rare. Maybe extinct, that combination. The combo of Hard-left, articulate and knowledgeable is easy to find.

          • Well thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately the vote is still not-slow: 1, slow: 128.

  8. "Only a dozen"?! Really? A dozen tortured is a dozen too many tortured in my books. Plain and simple.

  9. Anyone who knows how to capture a .wmv file from the web had better pop over to CBC.ca and archive this, before it goes down the Memory Hole for good…

    http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/23745/thenational/archive/

    "The prison warden, Col. Abdul Khadr, is our guide…

    Ormiston: Was there a problem with torture here?

    Khadr: Yes. There were tortures in every prison here…"