Saturday, May 05, 2007

Defence Dept Tries to 'Clarify' Detainee Abuse Incident

So, first the Conservative government, from Harper on down, denied allegations of detainee abuse in Afghanistan.

Then, this past week:

Federal opposition parties continued to hammer the Harper government yesterday over the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan after revelations that the Afghan police beat up a detainee given to them by the Canadian Forces.

Colonel Steven Noonan, a former task-force commander in Afghanistan, disclosed the incident in a Federal Court affidavit that forms part of the government's response to a legal challenge by Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association to stop all further detainee transfers.

Col. Noonan's sworn evidence was cited by the opposition in Question Period to demonstrate that the Conservative government was far from telling the truth when its members repeatedly denied that they had no specific examples that any detainee transferred by Canadian troops to Afghan authorities was later subject to abuse or torture.

And the delayed response from the Defence department?

Lieutenant-General Walter Natynczyk, the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, said Saturday that the way the incident has been portrayed is inaccurate.

In cross-examination involving a lawsuit by Amnesty International, Colonel Mike Noonan described an incident in which Canadian soldiers had to take custody of an Afghan man whom they suspected of being beaten by Afghan National Police officers. It was initially suggested the man had been captured by Canadian soldiers.

But Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk said that's not the case and the individual had simply been questioned by soldiers in the village of Zangabad, 50 kilometres southwest of Kandahar.
Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk said the Afghan man was later picked up by police, and Canadian soldiers, who later came across him, noticed he had been injured.

The troops arranged to have the man handed over to another police unit.

In a statement released late Saturday, Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk said there was no indication of torture.

It is the first time the military has provided this kind of clarification about the controversy involving detainees.

A government lawyer had initially blocked release of the information in Saturday's statement, saying it might violate national security. There was no explanation for the change of heart.

Yes. Why the change of heart? Especially since it now appears that Natynczyk is accusing Colonel Steven Noonan of lying under oath. Is that what this so-called "new" government means when it says it "respects the troops"? It pulls out the second-in-command to sling defamatory allegations against one of Canada's soldiers? That certainly what it looks like.

Check out Peter Mackay's statement following the revelations about this incident. They contradict what Natynczyk attempted to "clarify":

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay acknowledged that Canadian troops were forced to step in after the "abuse" of a prisoner they had just transferred to Afghan custody.

"They saw something happening, they acted decisively, and they ensured that the abuse ended right there," MacKay said in the Commons.

Is it too much to ask that these government shills get their stories straight? No one seems to know what anyone else knows or what they're doing about it.

Who's lying now and how are we supposed to figure that out?

Furthermore, when will Canadians say enough is enough and kick these incompetent bastards out of office?

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