Monday, April 30, 2007

Ouch!

One thing you've got to give Lorrie Goldstein - he doesn't play favourites! This is probably the most balanced editorial I've read to date on the Afghan detainee story.

But let's put the blame game aside, ferret out the truth and get on with a responsible solution. And while I'm at it, where's the rest of NATO? Why are we left hanging with all these problems?


* * * *

Update: As promised, here is a response from Lorrie Goldstein, sent after I advised him about some of the comments regarding his column today (especially the one at 12:53:00 PM):

Surely the person who best knows if Gordon O'Connor was wrong is Gordon O'Connor.

Please note what I wrote in today's piece: "At one point, O'Connor said the Red Cross was inspecting the prisoners for Canada. Wrong."

I wrote it that way for a reason. (O'Connor Apologizes to Commons)

On your reader's point that there are now allegations the Liberals may have known about similar torture allegations and ignored them while in government is, if the allegations are accurate, relevant, but it would only show that the Liberals are hypocrites. Like THAT'S a surprise?

It doesn't change the incompetent - at best - Conservative response to this controversy, which has been going on for months and which was simply re-ignited last week by the Globe because of its interviews with actual detainees.

This isn't the first time the Conservatives have had a crack at addressing this issue, so they can't claim to have been caught off guard.



Well, thanks Lorrie, for clarifying this for us. As I have said before, I'm conflicted on this one.


Tuesday Update: CTV has an updated story which also addresses rumours of O'Connor's resignation - Afghan politician rejects prisoner abuse claims.

Wednesday Update: Good on Lorrie Goldstein for exposing the Liberal hypocrisy here.

29 comments:

Red Tory said...

I guess this is one of Lorrie's editorials we're not going to see re-printed over at DBT's place. LOL.

But yes, get on with fixing the problem first. Politics can wait.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, for sure.

One further thought. Why is our commitment to Kyoto so much more important than our commitment to Nato and Afghanistan in the eyes of the NDP?

PGP said...

Are you suggesting that handing over captured combatants to the government of country in which the action is taking place is no responsible?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Wow, now I'm getting it from the Tory side. This is different!

My personal preference would be for Nato to get in there and check on allegations of abuse. We have enough on our hands.

PGP said...

Our presence there is under NATO.

Which is why all the mewling on the part of Canadian Media and politicians that has been directed at our own government is so childish.
As to "fixing the problem" which seems to be the catchphrase of the moment ...... When did it become part of that NATO mission to reform the administration of Afghan's current government agencies?

This is just more moonbattery on the part of people who are opposed to the participation of our country's military for any reason and motivated to a great extent by a desire to portray our own government as the culprits in an unwarranted aggression.
I call this BS!

Anonymous said...

I'm with pgp on this Joanne. And in light of the revelation over the w/e that Libs knew about these allegations from the beginning, I wonder when Lorrie wrote that piece?
Some info that doesnt' get included in the 'media' so-called reports: On MDL last week a top military person said there were 5(five) A'ghan people affected by this.
The screaming and hollering by the Libs and Taliban Jack in the HoC was disgusting.
Vicki

dudley doright said...

Lorrie Goldstein wrote:

"At one point, O'Connor said the Red Cross was inspecting the prisoners for Canada. Wrong."

But, according to Major-General Lewis Mackenzie, who commanded the NATO forces under UN authority in Sarajevo in 1992, the correct answer is "Right".

Mackenzie was on both CBC's Cross Country Checkup and 580 CFRA's Prof. Gerry Cammy Show on Sunday Apr. 29. I listened to both shows, and on one of them he said that unofficially, the International Red Cross does inspect and report the treatment of prisoners, but since they need to appear neutral, this is an unspoken truth.

In other words, he confirmed that Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's statement was factually correct, but thought that Gordon O'Connor's "mistake" was disclosing this generally unknown fact.

Additionally, Major-General Mackenzie said that since the Government of Canada is acting under the authority of NATO (again under UN sanction), the monitoring of prisoners under control of Afghan authorites was a NATO issue.

Given General Mackenzie's credentials and direct experience, I think his comments are more credible on this matter that Goldstein's.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mmmm... Wonder what Lorrie would say to that?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Vicki, I am disgusted by the screaming and hollering about this too. On the other hand, if our soldiers are handing prisoners over to be tortured, that is a problem.

I realize there is a cultural issue, but somehow it doesn't seem right.

Still, let's have all the facts out in the open.

Red Tory said...

PGP — When did it become part of that NATO mission to reform the administration of Afghan's current government agencies?

That's PRECISELY one of the things we (and the other NATO countries) are supposed to be doing there. You know... part of the whole "reconstruction" thing. I believe the idea is to help stablize the government and stop the country from becoming a failed state (or more of one). It's not all about killing Taliban in the field.

Gabby in QC said...

"At one point, O'Connor said the Red Cross was inspecting the prisoners for Canada. Wrong."

I wrote my comment before reading Dudley Doright's comment, which very clearly expressed what I was about to post. I too heard Gen. MacKenzie, and I trust his word, as I trust Min. O'Connor's.

"It's about a flawed process for handing over Taliban suspects to Afghani security forces for interrogation."

Also, as I've read elsewhere (sorry, no reference this time), among those prisoners there may be some "regular" criminals who do not fall under the Geneva Conventions. Some even question whether the Taliban, who are not part of a national army wearing a nation's uniform, should be treated under Geneva Convention rules.

It is rather difficult to eradicate the kind of treatment that century old traditions have established. That is not to say that we as Canadians should welcome mistreatment of Afghani prisoners, but how can we expect and demand the Afghanis to behave according to OUR standards?

http://tinyurl.com/36mhq2
"Measuring progress on a Western level, people would probably say there isn't any, but on an Afghan level I think it's encouraging," she tells CTV News.
Who is "she"? Canada's Director of Correctional Operations Linda Garwood-Filbert, who with members of Canada's Provincial Reconstruction Team, makes regular visits to Sarposa Provincial Prison.

Red Tory said...

Some even question whether the Taliban, who are not part of a national army wearing a nation's uniform, should be treated under Geneva Convention rules.

That point of view has never been subscribed to by the Canadian forces and has even been renounced by the Pentagon. Nice try though.

That some people rounded up in battle or otherwise might not be fighters is itself a powerful reason for ensuring that such people are not placed in a situation where they might be tortured or subject to extra-judicial murder.

So, it's wrong on both counts.

Red Tory said...

Gabby — Who is "she"? Canada's Director of Correctional Operations Linda Garwood-Filbert, who with members of Canada's Provincial Reconstruction Team, makes regular visits to Sarposa Provincial Prison.

How many prisoners is “she” tracking and monitoring? Does “she” know if some of the prisoners captured have been transferred to other facilities or even “renditioned” out of the country?

Your excuse-making is really kind of sad. The Afghan Ambassador himself admitted this weekend that he couldn’t be sure that prisoners hadn’t been or weren’t being tortured. On an inspection visit this weekend one of the two correctional officers in the country (a country of 24 million people, I might add) didn’t have full access to the prisoners and suggested they might have been too intimidated to speak openly as Afghan prison guards were present the entire time.

Gabby in QC said...

"Your excuse-making is really kind of sad."

Well, dry your eyes, because I'll readily admit to my partisan view, which of course, you are immune from.
Be that as it may ...

I'll also confess to having a real hard time working up a deep well of compassion for people who have in the past forced women to kneel in a soccer stadium so that they can be shot in the head.
I guess I'll have to change my name to Hard-Hearted Hannah.

Gabby in QC said...

"The Afghan Ambassador himself admitted this weekend that he couldn’t be sure that prisoners hadn’t been or weren’t being tortured."

If the Ambassador couldn't be SURE that torture was/is going on, that means it is within the realm of possibility that it ISN'T.

Call me crazy for preferring to believe our duly elected officials - Ministers O'Connor, Day, Mackay, the PM, among other officials - instead of believing people who would behead teachers, NGOs, journalists and anyone else who does not adhere to their world view.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I'll also confess to having a real hard time working up a deep well of compassion for people who have in the past forced women to kneel in a soccer stadium so that they can be shot in the head.

I'm feeling that way too, but I suppose we shouldn't be stooping to their level. I guess I'm clearly in the middle on this one.

Gabby in QC said...

You're absolutely right, Joanne. My two previous posts in response to RT were on an emotional rather than a rational level, I recognize that.
It's just that I find it very frustrating that allegations of torture are being discussed as though they were a "fait accompli."

It is things like the following that make me see red - no, nothing personal, RT.
http://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/04/27/WarCrime/
"Yesterday [April 27], two international legal scholars, Prof. Michael Byers from the University of British Columbia and Prof. William A. Schabas from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, sent a letter to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The letter, a copy of which is posted below, asks the Prosecutor to investigate whether Canada's two most senior military officials committed war crimes by allowing the transfers to take place and by not stopping them when credible reports of torture surfaced."

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby, that is unbelievable! I can see why you're so upset. Thanks for that link. War crimes!! OMG.

It is things like the following that make me see red - no, nothing personal, RT. There you go. You've still got it, Gabby.

Red Tory said...

Gabby — I'm not suggesting that anybody should be going on a witch hunt over this. I do think O'Connor should go, but I'm sure Harper's going to take care of that in due course anyway. As for the allegations of war crimes, that's beyond the pale, IMHO.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

As for the allegations of war crimes, that's beyond the pale, IMHO.

And that's all they are is allegations at this point. I'm sure you will correct me if I'm wrong.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I received a response from Lorrie Goldstein, which I will post later.

Gabby in QC said...

I do not know the Minister personally. I just think that a person who has served his country in the military and who continues to do so in a political function deserves better treatment from the likes of Denis Coderre and other "honourable" opposition members.

All the opposition has been doing is taunting Mr. O'Connor with catcalls:
http://tinyurl.com/23zc27
«"You can't handle the truth!" shouted one member.
"Court marshall!" yelped another.
"Fire in the hole!" came one cry.
If you're going to mock a veteran, you might as well do it with the language of war.»

Mr. Harper doesn't need my advice to make his decisions, but I do believe Mr. O'Connor deserves a bit more respect from the young huns in the HoC.

Gabby in QC said...

Ooops! My Apr 30, 07:22:00 PM EDT post was meant for RT, particularly this comment of his:
"I do think O'Connor should go, but I'm sure Harper's going to take care of that in due course anyway."

liberal supporter said...

And that's all they are is allegations at this point. I'm sure you will correct me if I'm wrong.

That is the whole point about the detainees too. It would be nice if they were given due process, tried and convicted before they are tortured.

It is not about sympathy for woman haters and beheaders. It is about sympathy for due process. It is about sympathy for the innocents who get rounded up by mistake.

Gabby in QC said...

" It is about sympathy for due process. It is about sympathy for the innocents who get rounded up by mistake."

You're right, but in the process let's not accuse our soldiers AND our officials AND our ministers of being complicit -"the state of being an accomplice; partnership or involvement in wrongdoing: complicity in a crime" - in the torture of those detainees.

Due process works both ways. So let's everybody take a valium ... or chill ... or whatever.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Response from Mr. Goldstein now added to original post.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Due process works both ways.

That's for sure. Let's see some facts. And let's try to separate our concern for what is going on in Afghanistan from partisan politics.

liberal supporter said...

Due process works both ways. So let's everybody take a valium ... or chill ... or whatever.

Agreed.

Care for a beer?

Gabby in QC said...

LS said:
"Agreed.
Care for a beer?"

Thanks!
"Every country has its own way of saying ‘Cheers”…

American: Cheers!
Austrian: Prosit.
Brazilian: Saœde. Viva
Chinese: Ganbei! (dry your cup)
Dutch: Prost! (health)
English: Cheers!
French: Santé (health)
German: Prost! (cheers)
Hebrew: La'chaim! (to life)
Irish: Slainte! (to your health)
Italian: Per cent'anni! (for one hundred years)
Italian 2: Salute (health)
Japanese: Kanpai! (dry your cup)
Maori: Kia Ora
Russian: Vashe zdorovie! (to health)
Spanish: Salud! (health)
Welsh: Iechyd da! (health) *

I cannot attest to the accuracy of the spelling etc.
Enjoy!