Will we ever know what happened in Afghanistan?


Canadian Press chronicles the latest development—allegations of witness intimidation—in the Military Police Complaints Commission’s attempt to investigate allegations of torture in Afghanistan and what the Canadian military knew, or should have known, about it.

Hearings were halted last week amid a dispute over the inquiry’s jurisdiction. The Federal Court has already ruled to limit its scope. The chairman of the commission has been told he’ll be reassigned on Dec. 11, likely before the commission has finished its investigation, despite opposition demands that his term be extended. Citing national security, the Justice Department has advised that some witnesses will not be allowed to testify fully, including Richard Colvin, who claims to have “personal knowledge” of what military police knew or could have known.

The Liberals are pursuing a parliamentary probe of the issue, while the NDP wants the chairman and Mr. Colvin to testify before a Parliamentary committee.


Will we ever know what happened in Afghanistan?

  1. This situation is intolerable-are we complicit in war crimes or not? Canada's government-and Canadians generally should be demanding that this information make it into the public domain. We need to know exactly what our military is doing (or perhaps more precisely allowing to happen) in the Afghan theatre-especially given the allegations. To hide from this information infers only one conclusion.

    The Commission's work must be permitted to proceed without this interference. If the worst is true then we will have to deal with as a country and go forward. After this obfuscation now anything short of full disclosure diminishes us all irreparably.

  2. The Commission's mandate is to review the actions of the Military Police, not the Canadian Forces as a whole.

    Unless the government orders a public inquiry, the only body with a mandate to do so is a Parliamentary Committee. All this talk of a "cover-up" is silly, the Commission just completed a separate inquiry into prisoner abuse that was focussed on the Military Police. National Security claims are tested in the Federal Court, where judges decide whether or not they are justified. The Department of Justice does not participate in cover-ups.

    This is simply about the Commission overstepping its mandate.

    • And so anything and everything, including intimidating witnesses who are employed by the government is permissible to limit that mandate? I think in another context you'd be outraged by the behaviour of the "government lawyers."

  3. Either the government is deliberately obstructing the work of the Commission or it is failing to rein in the Justice Department lawyers who are. Either way, given the repeated mistatements of the government about what or what wasn't happening with detainees, it's now up to the prime minister to see that we get a full explanation.

  4. Con ethics at work. Nobody testifies, nothing happened. Welcome to our Bush years!