Thursday, February 25, 2010

'Our allies' shameful methods'

Did we turn a blind eye to Afghan prisoners?
James Travers, Toronto Star: In the winter of 2007, three insurgents captured by Canada's top-secret Joint Task Force Two disappeared into the notorious Afghan prison system. Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended Parliament rather than release related documents that raise difficult questions about the role of this country's special forces and spies in targeting, capturing and interrogating key enemies.

Linking those events are fears about Isa Mohammed and two other prisoners transferred to Kabul control by Canadians after successful Kandahar operations. In a private 2007 briefing, the prestigious International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern to Canada that the men had either been killed or were being held by the US in one of its controversial 'black site' military prisons.

Dispatches detailing those worries, the names of the three missing men -- as well as a fourth who Canadians found -- and Red Cross frustration over the military's persistent failure to provide timely, accurate prisoner information are in the files the Harper government is withholding. Along with the parallel testimony of Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, those documents pose a political problem for ruling Conservatives. More significantly, they are a threat to relations between Ottawa and Washington, which this country sent its troops to Afghanistan largely to reinforce...

Harper prorogued Parliament in December at least in part to put an end to awkward opposition questions about what generals and ministers knew about Afghan abuse of combatants... Now the Prime Minister can only hope that next week's throne speech and budget will distract attention from something much worse: Worry that Canadians turned a systematically blind eye to their allies' shameful methods.
Image: Members of Canada's secretive JTF2 unit escort three detainees across tarmac at the airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Jan. 21, 2002. Source here.