Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heads Should Roll.

“I saw Canadian military intelligence sending detainees to the NDS when the detainees did not tell them what they expected to hear,” Mr. Malgarai told the special Commons committee on Afghanistan. “If the [Canadian] interrogator thought a detainee was lying, the military sent him to NDS for more questions, Afghan style. Translation: abuse and torture.”

Effectively, he said, “the military used the NDS as subcontractors for abuse and torture.”

Mr. Malgarai’s testimony is the most explosive to enter the long-running and divisive political debate about Canada’s conduct in Afghanistan since last November. . . .

I'll say.

"There is friction between Mr. Malgarai and the Canadian government," we are told. Fair enough. But Chief of the Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk insists: “I can assure all Canadians that we take all allegations seriously and will investigate new allegations appropriately.”

I should bloody well hope so. And if it's Malgarai who's playing loose with the truth, it's his head that should roll.

Meanwhile, Franz Kafka is tediously evoked in Richard Colvin's defence over at the Military Complaints Commission, where all these sordid allegations should have been dealt with in the first place, which would have obliged the Special Committee on Afghanistan to do the job it was established to do.

Colvin can't cite his own censored allegations because "censorship is vital to national security," or so the Globe reports. But it's here that a Kafka reference really is allowable. What was the job Parliament assigned to the Special Committee on Afghanistan? It was supposed to review the laws and procedures related to Afghanistan-related operational and national security exceptions to the disclosure of information to Parliament, the Courts and the public.

Did it do its job? No. And that's why things got so Kafkaesque for Colvin on Tuesday.

Heads should roll.

UPDATE: There's far more to this than would meet the eye of a Globe and Mail reader, it turns out. "Here we are yet again, dealing in sensational and uncorroborated second-hand allegations that Canadian Forces personnel have engaged in war crimes. Yet again, Amir Attaran is involved. And yet again, the real beef is the detainee transfer policy."

Heads should roll.

UPDATE II: The heads should be those of Amir Attaran and Mr. Malgarai, it seems:

"A shooter who was providing support to the operation identified the individual and assessed that he was a threat, and shot the individual," he writes in the letter to Kevin Sorenson.

"The actions of the shooter were an appropriate application of the rules of engagement and saved the lives of a number of Canadian Forces members that night."

Natynczyk said the suspect was armed and not a detainee.

During his testimony, Malgarai alleged troops "panicked" after shooting the unarmed man and rounded up 10 innocent villagers, including a 10-year-old boy and a crippled 90-year-old man, and transferred them to the Afghan security service.

Ten Afghans were detained. "Nine of these detainees tested positive for explosive residue," Natynczyk said. "In accordance with standard procedures, these detainees were taken to Kandahar Airfield where they were processed and determined to be uninjured and in good health."

Natynczyk said two of the detainees said coalition forces "planted a pistol on the deceased insurgent" during questioning but that one of them later recanted his allegations.


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