Monday, November 23, 2009

Torture in Afghanistan: The Coverup Continues

This is all very simple: if Peter MacKay wants to be believed when he says that no Afghan detainees handed over to Afghan authorities by the Canadian military were victims of torture, he needs to release all of the relevant documents to prove his assertion. As long as he refuses to do so, he and his Conservative government don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.

(And they certainly don't deserve to be cut any slack, no matter what Chantal Hebert thinks. Is anybody out there denying that this "mess" started with the Liberals? No. I didn't think so.)

Peter MacKay can't have it both ways - but he'll definitely keep trying. He and his Con buddies have spent days smearing Richard Colvin and insisting that he couldn't prove that there were any "credible" allegations of detainee abuse. Yet, here's what MacKay admitted today when his back was against the wall because of General Natynczyk's weekend revelations:

"Most recently the reason that the transfers stopped was that the Afghan officials were not living up to ... expectations," MacKay said during question period in the House of Commons.

He told Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff that the government acted as soon as "credible allegations came to our attention."
Meanwhile, Colvin is unable to properly defend himself.

As he stated during his opening statement last week:

In October 2007, I left Afghanistan and started a new job in Washington, D.C. In April 2009, I was subpoenaed by the Military Police Complaints Commission. In response, DFAIT, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, took three significant steps.

First, they’ve made it very difficult for me to access legal counsel. This ongoing problem has still not been resolved.

Second, DFAIT and the Department of Justice, again working together, blocked my access to my own reports from Afghanistan. I was told, “We will decide which of your reports you require.” I was given none of them.

Third, government lawyers have threatened me under section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act. This had the effect of placing me in an impossible position. If I refuse to co-operate with the MPCC subpoena, I could be jailed for up to six months, but I did co-operate under section 38 I could be jailed for up to five years.

When this warning was sent, DFAIT and the Department of Justice, again acting together, were still withholding approval for legal counsel, depriving me of legal advice and protections.
So, MacKay is free to strut and crow while Colvin remains under threat from a government that absolutely refuses to allow the man to back up his testimony with actual evidence.

This is democracy? This is Canada?

With General Hillier set to invoke the Alberto Gonzales "I don't recall" defense when he testifies this Wednesday, followed by an emergency damage control effort by David Mulroney who has requested to appear as well, the Cons will continue to dig in their obstructionist heels as they attempt to hide the truth.

The lingering question is why?

And the only obvious answer is that they can't afford to let that truth be known. And not for Canada's sake - as they continue to insist. This is all about politics. Human rights be damned.

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