Saturday, March 27, 2010

Detainee scandal update

While we're waiting for a retired judge hired by the Tories to determine if the documents that a majority of Parliament has demanded can be safely released, the Cons have released 2600 highly redacted pages of material. A few interesting things have emerged:
The newly disclosed reports include an incident in 2006 in which an Afghan soldier strikes a bound prisoner in the back of the head with a rocket launcher; a nudge-and-wink admission by one Canadian soldier that Afghan counterparts “don’t necessarily follow our policies on detainee handling if you know what I mean”; and allegations by one soldier being treated for post-traumatic stress that detainees handed over to Afghan authorities were taken behind a building and executed.

All of the incidents are deemed unfounded by military investigators, but the documents also show a disturbing trend of front-line soldiers and senior military officials keeping their own police investigators in the dark and even threatening them at a time when sensitivity to how Canadians treat and handle their Afghan detainees was at its highest.

In January 2008, for example, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshall reports that a military policewoman was grabbed by two unknown assailants at Kandahar Airfield as she was leaving the shower one night. They “grabbed her arms, pushed her against the shower wall and told her: ‘MPs mind your own business.’“

Even after the troubled Canadian detainee transfer system was first exposed in mid-2007, there was a “preference to keep MP (military police) from advising and investigating rather than adopting a transparent and proactive approach,” according to a Feb. 27, 2008 report by Provost Marshall Capt. Steve Moore.

From the Star. Nothing to see here, move along. Equally interesting is this:
An apparent slipup in the federal government’s censoring of Afghan detainee documents shows Ottawa is using its black marker to hide potentially embarrassing information, a military and information law expert says.

Under pressure from opposition parties, the Harper government made public 2,600 pages of heavily censored records on the detainee controversy this week. It insisted that civil servants, not Conservative staff, decided what to keep secret – only withholding information judged to be injurious to national security.

But in one instance, a description of rebellious activity by detainees is apparently blacked out in one portion of the 2,600 documents but inadvertently disclosed in another section. It’s presumably the result of diverging censorship decisions by separate officials.

The sentences in question describe how detainees began testing and challenging their Canadian captors in early 2008. Prisoners are held in a short-term Forces detention facility before being transferred to Afghan authorities.
Oopsie. What's interesting about this is that it's pretty hard to see why this should have been redacted; it's not going to help your average Taliban dude. In other words, to nobody's surprise, stuff is being redacted that doesn't relate directly to matters of security (except perhaps Stephen Harper's job security).

No comments: