Monday, April 30, 2007

Day Changes His Story - Again

If you're an Albertan like me, you long ago had your fill of the extremely incompetent Stockwell Day. How that man rose through the ranks of the Conservative party to any position of responsibility is beyond me. His track record is outrageous and he continues to show exactly why he shouldn't be trusted to hold a position of power - especially one that affects the reputation of our country.

After insisting that allegations of torture and abuse were "false" this past week (even though none of the investigations into them had actually either happened or been concluded), we now discover this about Day:

OTTAWA (CP) - The Conservative government conceded Monday that it has received reports from Canadian officials about alleged torture in Afghan jails.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day says Corrections Canada officers in Kandahar have heard at least two first-hand allegations of abuse. "Yes, they have actually talked to detainees about the possibility if they were tortured or not," Day said early Monday in response to a reporter's question. "They actually had a couple of incidents where detainees said they were."

It is the first time a senior minister has admitted clearly that Canadian officials were informed of specific abuse allegations. Day said the claims came to light last week when he spoke by phone with staff overseas.

Corrections Canada has had two officers in Kandahar since early February, mentoring Afghan prison guards.

Day said the officers had no evidence to back up the abuse claims, but didn't say if an investigation had been conducted. "The officers saw no physical marks or anything else to substantiate the allegations," he said in a telephone interview late Monday.

There are so many investigations going on now with regards to these allegations that it's hard to keep track of them all. But there's CSI: Stockwell Day asserting again that there's nothing to see here, folks. Just move right along...

The Tories changed their strategy on Monday, toning down their claims that the allegations of abuse were fabricated.

Because they are proven liars. Period.

And check this out from this supposedly accountable "new" government that likes to sit on its high horse of moral superiority:

Liberal deputy leader Michael Ignatieff told the Commons that the government had lost control of the situation and again called for the resignation of Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, who was not in the Commons on Monday.

His absence renewed a flurry of speculation, which started last week, that O'Connor was about to step down.

Unsolicited, his communications officers issued this terse e-mail note to reporters: "If any of you give credit to the rumour that (the minister of national defence) will resign, (you) will look (stupid). It is not true, he will NOT resign."

I'm sorry but who's really looking "stupid" here? (Nice sense of professionalism those communications officers have.)

O'Connor is Canada's Rumsfeld. Day is Canada's George Tenet. Guergis is Canada's Condi. Van Loan is Canada's Tony Snow. And Peter Mackay is just so bloody clueless that he could match far too many Bushco sycophants to name here.

The difference is that this is Canada and these clowns are a minority government so, thankfully, we don't have to put up with their ignorant hubris any longer than the date of the next election. As far as I'm concerned, they should all go now. You don't screw around with human rights and expect to get off scott free. Our country is supposed to be better than that. Our country is supposed to stand for something - an example of how to do things right oversees while actually respecting people in the process.

What's it going to take to hold these arrogant politicans responsible for what is fast becoming a national disgrace?

Also, via CBC:

Day said the officers had no evidence to back up the abuse claims, but didn't say if an investigation had been conducted.

CBC News spoke to three former prisoners who all say they were mistreated by Afghan authorities, after being handed over by Canadian troops.

They claim they were beaten, and in once case, a guard subjected one man to electric shocks.

And if that isn't enough:

On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper maintained that there was no evidence of abuse.

"As I've said many times, the government takes these allegations seriously," Harper said.

"We have agreements with the government of Afghanistan and also with the Afghan independent human rights commission. The knowledge we have at this point is that those agreements are operating as they should."

Members of the Afghan independent human rights commission were able to examine prison conditions in Kandahar on Monday, although they couldn't talk privately with the detainees.

"The place where these men are being held is not fit for humans," said Shamsudin Taweer, an inspector with the commission. "The conditions are terrible."

He said that inside the prison, 24 men are crammed into two cells. He said some detainees aren't allowed to sleep and that at times, there isn't enough food for everyone.

"In other countries, human rights are respected in prisons," he said. "But in Afghanistan, we don't always treat human rights in the same way."

Enough is enough.

Related: MPs reject NDP call for immediate end to Afghan mission

It's just one long, endless mess.

Need more proof?

KABUL, Afghanistan, April 30 — United States Special Forces said they killed more than 130 Taliban in two recent days of heavy fighting in a valley in western Afghanistan, but hundreds of angry villagers protested in nearby Shindand on Monday, saying dozens of civilians had been killed when the Americans called in airstrikes.
Forty-nine Taliban fighters, including two leaders of the group, were killed in the first bombardment on Friday, and 87 militants were killed in bombing during a second battle on Sunday that raged for 14 hours, the military said in a statement from the United States-led coalition headquarters at the Bagram air base.

But the local residents said that civilians were killed in the bombardment and that some drowned in the river as they fled, according to a local member of Parliament, Maulavi Gul Ahmad. News agencies reported that demonstrators said women and children were among the dead.

Mr. Ahmad condemned the bombing and said that the fighting angered local residents because the Americans raided their houses at night.

“They should not do that,” he said in a telephone interview. “The number that they claim — that 130 Taliban were killed — is totally wrong. There are no Taliban there.”

Raiding houses touches a nerve in Afghanistan, especially in conservative tribal areas, because the local custom dictates that men who are not family members cannot enter the parts of homes where the women stay. Such raids were upsetting local sensibilities so much several years ago that the American forces made an agreement with the Afghan government that they would not raid houses without the presence of Afghan elders or the police. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission says that the agreement is still in effect, but that American troops do not always adhere to it.

So much for any weight being given to agreements with Afghanistan's Human Rights Commission - like the one the Harper government has been touting as the new be all and end all of ensuring the safety and security of the detainees. It's just one big horror show.

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