Updated twice since original post, first mid Friday afternoon (Jan 25 08), second Saturday afternoon (Jan 26 08).
Man, I hate it when my computer crashes just when I finish a long detailed post and am about to publish it, I had a nicely written commentary about the latest developments in the ongoing Afghan detainee scandal all proofed and linked when it died, so this time I am going to keep it fairly short so as to hope this one will publish before such happens again.
It appears that the Harper government has managed to exceed the level of corruption (remember, my corruption concerns with the Harper CPC
have always been in terms of abuse of power/position than in terms of theft of taxpayer dollars, which of the two types I find the former to be far more dangerous than the latter to a democratic society/system of government) and incompetence I had thought them capable of with this. I went first to the Galloping Beaver
where I read this excellent post by Dave
dealing with what Sandra Buckler, PM Harper's media controller/coordinator had to say on this. I then went to Impolitical
where I found this article
with this link
telling us that this government did not know about the stoppage of transfers, indeed that it appeared the government was not happy about that change. So I went to the Globe and Mail
to find this there.
In the end of my readings so far (I took a couple of days off of Canadian news because I had a mild cardiac event Monday night and thought I should stay away from things that overly enraged/excited me, which these days the government has a depressingly frequent tendency of doing to me) there are several aspects to the detainee issue that I find of great concern. However, I am focusing only on one aspect in this post, that being the stoppage of prisoner transfers, who ordered it and what this means when considering what the government has been saying about this since last November. For it is here that I see something truly worrisome (to put it mildly).
We have essentially two scenarios/situations here. One, the government has been knowingly lying to the Canadian people both in and out of Parliament since last November regarding the continued transfer of prisoners to Afghan authorities despite the concerns about potential Geneva violations, which is bad enough. This would indicate a willingness to lie to the public on an issue as serious as this, and an issue which to discuss does *NOT* compromise operational security as Dave at the Galloping Beaver makes quite clear in his writings on this topic. Traditionally we follow the Geneva Conventions when it comes to the taking and keeping of prisoners, and one of the first things that includes is notification of the other side through a third party who we have in our custody, so the argument the CPC
likes to use about what it tells the enemy about our operations is patent nonsense. As to how they are treated being kept secret, the only way that makes sense is if you have reason to think that the treatment will enrage/inflame the situation, which if the Geneva Conventions are being followed properly is ludicrous. This would be bad enough if this is what has been going on, especially given that one of the favourite responses to this issue from this government to questioners (especially in the HoC
) is to brand them as being more concerned for the well being of Taliban terrorists than of our soldiers, a fancy way of saying either you are with us completely or you are automatically/inherently with the terrorists, which is truly disgusting as an attack line as well as preventing any meaningful examination of the topic at hand, which is no doubt part of the reasoning why the Harper CPC
uses this inflammatory rhetoric/approach.
However, it is the second of the two possibilities that really bothers me. Under that scenario we have the military acting unilaterally to override government policy on detainee transfers without telling the government that they have done so. Now, the only reason that would make sense is if the commanders on the ground felt that government policy on this issue was exposing their troops to significant/serious risks of violating the Geneva Conventions and down the road being charged for it, essentially that the current orders were de
facto illegal orders *AND* that the commanders did not trust the sitting government to not override that change if they became aware of it. Stop and think for a moment about what that scenario would be showing. It would show a government more concerned with political coverage than policy. It would show really bad oversight ability by this government. It would show that this government is indifferent to being in violation of the Geneva Conventions, and is indifferent about putting our troops in a position where they could face such charges down the road, all so as to look like they are being "tough on terrorism and terrorists unlike the Opposition parties". Most troubling of all though it would show that the military does not trust this government to make legal policy that protects the soldiers in the field and that they felt it necessary to override the usual protocol of civilian authority calling the shots in military policy, something I cannot recall seeing happen in our society before (I could be wrong about that, is anyone thinks they know of another example of the military reversing and hiding the reversal of policy in a combat theatre I will add it as an update to this post).
So either way this government is showing itself to be unfit for office, either it knew and lied despite the inevitability that the lie would be exposed about the halting of the detainees (which makes little sense since that would have defused the negative reaction in the public and denied the Opposition parties a significant political hammer) or they did not know despite their oversight responsibilities (which on an issue which has been as hot as this one over the past year one would have thought any sane government would have kept a close watch over if only out of self preservation instincts) that the military changed the policy (likely because they feared that the government's policy would result in potential Geneva and even war crimes trials for Canadian soldiers down the road if they did not stop these transfers). That the military would feel the need to have to hide this from the government indicates they didn't trust the government to go along with this decision, which in turn indicates an appalling lack of judgment by the government in placing its political needs ahead of the honour, reputation, and expertise of those in uniform when it comes to such basics as the treatment of prisoners according to the law of this country. When the military overrides civilian authority you have a very serious problem indeed in a democracy, and that is why I hope the government has been knowingly lying all along rather than this second possibility, yet going by what is in the public domain to date the second appears to be more probable.
This is also not the first time this government has tried to blame the military for actions it was responsible for, just remember the flap over media coverage of the repatriation ceremonies of our dead soldiers from Afghanistan a few months after they came to power. I documented this in two post at Saundrie here
. You would think this government would have learned better by now, but that is one of the hallmarks of this government, it doesn't learn because it already believes it knows all the right answers regardless of what anyone else may think no matter what their qualifications/expertises
. This is a very bad situation indeed, even by the standard of failure and hyperpoliticization
of the CPC
government. More and more it looks like in foreign policy and especially where our troops are concerned this government is exactly like GWB's
. They use the military as a political prop/tool for partisan purposes, provide minimal to no support resourcewise
, and try to hide the costs of the war/conflict from the domestic audience/public while calling anyone with any questions let alone criticisms of government military policy as anti-patriotic/terrorist sympathizers, etc. That kind of jingoism is not a hallmark of Canadian society, although it is of American, and that this government and especially this PM clearly practices such speaks volumes as to where he comes from in this, and it is not rooted in anything remotely resembling Canadian rooted/based thinking.
I have been avoiding blogging about the detainee issue because it is something that truly offends me beyond the ability to keep my anger/rage under control when I write about it. It was in no small part why I stopped here last year. However, I cannot continue to not document this issue here anymore, especially not now when such serious an issue as the military overriding civilian authority to protect the troops from legal repercussions appears to have happened. That is something I would never have expected to see in this country, and the anger and shame I feel at the government that has placed us in apparent violation of Geneva Convention protocols cannot be easily put into words. For a party and government that shouts about how it and only it respects and values our military their behaviour since coming to power has been putting the lie to that assertion and then some. If anything this Harper CPC
government disrespects and holds in contempt the military more than any prior government than I have seen in my lifetime except of course for the political partisan ways they can use them as props and as a weapon to try to hurt their political opposition, that appears to be the only value the Harper CPC
sees in our military. Shameful doesn't even begin to cover it IMHO.
As of 2:05pm EST The Globe and Mail is reporting that Sandra Buckler is backing off her original comment about the government not being informed, however when asked to clarify if that meant then the government did have knowledge of the halt of transfer she refused to say. Here is the link to the article
for all to read and evaluate for themselves. I would be giving credit to Jimbobby
because he raised it in comments except that I had returned to Saundrie
to add this update when I found his comment. Still though I didn't want him thinking I was slighting him so I thought I should mention that too. Thank you for the consideration JB
even though I had already found the article, it is still much appreciated.
This article in the G&M (h/t to Impolitical
) now makes it impossible to believe that this government had no idea about the stop of transfer of detainees from right after the military changed its policy. Impolitical
in this post
underscores exactly why that is, and I agree with Impolitical's
reasoning here completely. Both are well worth the read IMHO. This explains how the appearance of the military keeping a government as well known for micromanagement as this one out of the loop on this policy change was able to go unchallenged for several hours in the national media as well as making it difficult to impossible to believe the government was not lying about this back when it was sliming
the Opposition for being more concerned with the well being of Taliban/terrorists than they were about our soldiers in and out of the House of Commons last November. I think this government has pushed the military and civil service just about as far as it is going to be willing to take it, as Impolitical
notes this means we should start seeing more and more leaks of what this government has been doing all it can to bury, and it will be its own fault (not that they will see it that way of course, no they will blame it all on the liberal media conspiracy against Conservatives and the Liberal civil service out to get them it won't be because the CPC
did anything wrong, nosiree
not at all) that this is happening