Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Richard Colvin and the Torture Cons
He was a reluctant whistleblower. Just a quiet, professional doing his job, and telling the truth about torture.
The Cons tried to silence him, and when they couldn't do that anymore they smeared him and tried to destroy his career. But today that quiet Canadian came back at them, and blew their dirty criminal cover-up to pieces.
Former Afghanistan diplomat Richard Colvin slammed back at some of the testimony heard from witnesses at the committee investigating the Afghan detainee affair, insisting that he had warned Canadian officials that prisoners were being abused.
In his letter, Colvin highlights six reports sent to Ottawa in 2006, including one he said noted that "torture is rife" in Afghan jails.
My hero Richard Colvin.
There are so many stunning revelations it's hard to know where to begin. But this is what we now know:
We handed over all kinds of prisoners to the Afghan authorities, including many on the battlefield so they wouldn't be classified as our detainees, and we could wash their hands of them. Even though the Generals should have known they might be tortured.
It was generally known that prisoners in Afghanistan are routinely tortured or abused. In Kandahar, the risk is even higher than in the average province. Kandahar is on the front lines of the insurgency. Each side treats the other with brutality, and NDS officers and their families are regularly targeted and killed. About half the NDS's staff formerly served in KhAD, the KGB‐trained Soviet‐era intelligence service, which also had a well‐deserved reputation for ferocity.
Lieutenant‐General Gauthier commanded Canadian troops in Kandahar in 2002, and General Hillier commanded ISAF in Kabul in 2004. It is implausible that they would not have known how Afghans treat their prisoners.
But still we rushed these prisoners into the hands of the NDS and then took as long as possible until we notified the Red Cross.
According to testimony to the Military Police Complaints Commission, it was CEFCOM in Ottawa, not military officers in the field, that made decisions about each detainee, and urged the field commanders to transfer them to NDS as fast as possible. It was also CEFCOM that created the artificial delays that kept out ICRC monitors during the critical first days when detainees were being interrogated by the NDS.
So the NDS could have more time to torture or rape them.
And how did CEFCOM respond to Colvin's warnings?
I informed an interagency meeting of some 12 to 15 officials in Ottawa that, "The NDS tortures people, that's what they do, and if we don't want our detainees tortured, we shouldn't give them to the NDS." (The NDS, or National Directorate of Security, is Afghanistan's intelligence service.) The response from the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) note‐taker was to stop writing and put down her pen.
And how did the Cons react?
Interdepartmental Coordinator for Afghanistan David Mulroney suggested that the only reason reports were edited was to remove 'opinion' or 'non‐fact based' information. This is not correct. Instead, embassy staffers were told that they should not report information, however accurate, that conflicted with the government's public messaging.
By turning truth into propaganda. And by trying to smear the messenger.
On the question of credibility, some officials have suggested that I only left the PRT once and was mostly confined to compounds. For the record, I went "outside the wire" in Kandahar at least eleven times, including attending a shura of 300 elders in northern Kandahar (which was widely covered by the media), visiting villages in Arghandab, and spending the night at a forward operating base in Panjwayi. In Kabul, I left the protected embassy zone (presumably "the wire") an average of twice a day ‐‐ probably 500 times in total.
Which is more than those Cons, or those Generals, or that chickenhawk Christie Blatchford ever did.
So how are the Cons reacting to Richard Colvins's demolition of their cover-up?
By parroting the Big Lie, and trying to hide behind our soldiers. The miserable sleazy COWARDS.
Enough of this criminal charade.
We need a public inquiry NOW...