'Why do you want to know?' - Macleans.ca

‘Why do you want to know?’

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More memos from 2006, more concerns about Canada’s handling of Afghan detainees.

One of the complainants was British Colonel Dudley Giles, a senior military police officer with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force the 40-plus nation coalition fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. In August of 2006 he brought his concerns to the Canadian embassy in Kabul, saying Canada was stonewalling on providing basic information on the Afghans it was capturing.

“Col. Giles made what can only be described as strong criticisms of the Canadian approach on detainee issues,” Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin wrote in a Sept. 28, 2006, memo that was sent to more than 30 Canadian government e-mail addresses – most of them in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“There are ‘issues of trust and openness,’ ” Mr. Colvin quoted Col. Giles as saying. “According to Giles, when he contacts Canadian [officials] in Kandahar, ‘their first response to requests is ‘Why do you want to know?’ followed by ‘We know what you want, but we won’t give it to you.’ ” The memos add to the weight of concerns already raised by Mr. Colvin, the International Committee of the Red Cross and human-rights groups about Canada’s practices in transferring prisoners to Afghan authorities.

(Reminder: Tomorrow at 1pm, I’ll be chatting about the year in Parliament.)