Thursday, December 10, 2009

If They Didn't Know, They're Much Too Stupid to Govern and Lead

You don't have to dig very deep to learn that torture is commonplace in Afghan prisons and detention centres. There's an abundance of evidence that those delivered into the hands of Afghan gaolers were indeed tortured for the usual reason torture is employed - to coerce confessions.

What I found particularly troubling was a survey of Afghan security officials undertaken by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Organization in 2006. Barely one in six officials surveyed understood that torture was illegal. One in six. If five out of six don't know that torture is illegal, what are the chances that torture will be rampant among those delivered into their hands?

The second most common purpose of torture in Afghan prisons? Money. AIHRO reports that many captives were tortured to pressure their families to come up with bribes.

All along we've known that the Afghan government and its officials were as bent as a bad nail. We knew from the top down that the power structure was rife with crime and corruption. We knew that they freely predated their own people. From everything we knew of them, what made us think - even for a moment - that we could trust them not to torture detainees we turned over to them?

I hope that the prime minister, his defence ministers and foreign ministers and all his top generals acted out of sheer boneheaded stupidity. I hope that because the alternative is really hard to contemplate.


Parliament Shill said...

Ah, but all you have are vague suppositions, not "hard evidence." Or "substantiated evidence," or whatever the flimflam phrase of the day is. Personally, I suspect the real explanation is that Harper and his ilk simply did not care one way or the other whether people were tortured.

It's interesting how quick our elected leaders (and corporate officials, by the by, if trials like Ken Lay's and Conrad Black's are any indication) are to run to the shelter of "I'm sorry, I'm not evil, I'm just incompetent." The cynical calculation seems to be that Canadians will happily accept incompetent leadership. I, personally, do not.

The Mound of Sound said...

PS, yours is the very "alternative" I'd really like not to have to contemplate.

A chief of defence staff who, until two days ago, was in the dark about an allegation that had been raging for weeks, months, years? A former chief of defence staff who dummies up and flat out denies everything? What does that say about Canada's top soldiers?

A prime minister and a defence minister who confound, confuse and deceive even when that means putting the lie to themselves?

These characters, from the prime minister to the top dogs at DND, are responsible for protecting the honour of the brave fighting soldiers they so recklessly send in harm's way - and this is how they do it.

Liberal Justice said...

This is the type of post I like to see from you. I really like it.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well LJ, I'm pleased that you're pleased. But the thing with straight talk is that it can cut both ways.

Parliament Shill said...

"These characters, from the prime minister to the top dogs at DND, are responsible for protecting the honour of the brave fighting soldiers they so recklessly send in harm's way - and this is how they do it."

I agree, and that's precisely why I contemplate other explanations. All jokes about intellectually defective politicos aside, I just find it hard to believe that we are being governed by a collective of mental invalids, and I find it depressing that this is the defence so often resorted to when they get caught out doing something unseemly. Ministerial responsibility demands that they take responsibility for what happens in their offices even if it can't be proven that they knew what was going on.

I also don't think they're a bunch of evil geniuses. I don't for a second think that there was ever a Cabinet committee meeting where Harper and O'Connor and MacKay and etc. sat around rubbing their hands and cackling and arranging for Afghans to be tortured. What strikes me as much more likely is that they really didn't care one way or the other about this, except that they really wanted to avoid a public debate on it.

It's this same sort of indifference that we saw with Abousfian Abdelrazik, Omar Khadr, etc. As far as the government's concerned, when people are suspected of being terrorists, well, if bad things happen to them it's all part of the game. It's an official indifference that I find extremely disturbing.

LeDaro said...

Parliament Shill, you’re right. Too bad Harper and Mackay are not taking the responsibility. They need to be taught that buck stops at their doorsteps and not soldiers' or generals'.

Unknown said...