Friday, March 05, 2010

Is There A Smoking Gun on Afghan Torture Waiting for Iacabucci?

According to an Ottawa University law professor the documents to be laid out before retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Iacabucci reveal Canadian officials handed over Afghan detainees to torturers for the specific purpose of gaining intelligence.

Professor Amir Attaran has told CBC News that he's read the unredacted documents the Harper government is hiding: "If these documents were released [in full], what they will show is that Canada partnered deliberately with the torturers in Afghanistan for the interrogation of detainees," he said.

"There would be a question of rendition and a question of war crimes on the part of certain Canadian officials. That's what's in these documents, and that's why the government is covering up as hard as it can."

If professor Attaran is right and if these documents become public, either by being released by Iacabucci or through back channels, it's foreseeable that the chain of command of culpability could reach straight up to the upper echelons of the Defence Department and into the Harper cabinet as well.

In the United States this would be brushed off as all but completely irrelevant but isn't that mentality part of what has brought that once great country low? If professor Attaran is right, if these documents contain what he says he's read with his own eyes, then it'll be our turn to confront government criminality. Will we stand against it? Will we refuse to tolerate it? Will we demand that wrongdoers in high office be punished? Or will we follow the example of the American people, shrug and avert our eyes to it?

How we, the Canadian people, respond to this may define the kind of people we'll be and the Canada we'll have for decades to come. Let's hope that we appreciate what we may be coming up against.


Anonymous said...

Of course, we should be aware that the previous Liberal administration was also complicit... but I'm okay with that.

Fish said...

Don't be ridiculous Mound, confronting our own flaws and errors within the generation that they happened is simply not the way things are handled in this country.

Some low ranking soldier (maybe an officer) will get the blame, our leaders will fein outrage, the renecks will say "you should have tortured them all yourselves" and Harper will still pretend to "stand by the troops".

In any event, if Harper or any of his cabinet members are culpable, I doubt very much that it would be on paper, and even if it were, there is no way Iacobucci will ever see it.

The Mound of Sound said...

CWTF, the complicity would arise only from the time it was shown that detainees were in fact handed over for 'enhanced interrogation' (as his Igness delicately refers to it). And then it would be a question of who knew what and when?

If this actually happened and if seniors in the Martin government knew of it and did nothing to stop it then, yes, they are culpable and, like you, I'd happily see them get what's coming to them.

If anyone political is accountable it would far more likely be someone within the Harper regime. They've certainly been aware (and in public denial of) these allegations for some time.

Fish, whatever exists appears to indeed be papered. What do you know of this professor? He's from your alma mater after all.

And I'm not sure I share your cynicism. Mulroney cabinet ministers were prosecuted in a timely way. The bulk of the cabinet of former Saskatchewan premier Grant Devine paid a visit to the Greybar Hotel.

Where I become cynical is in the realization that, if any top politico was to be prosecuted, it would likely fall to a successor prime minister to order it. Harper certainly wouldn't prosecute his own. Lord knows what blowback that might bring down on his head. However if the decision fell to Harper's alter-ego, Iggy, I'm leery he'd be interested in seeing that pursued. That man is utterly gutless and I think he'd be reluctant to take part in anything that might impinge on his own directorial powers later on. You don't want the unwashed poking around where they have no business, do you?

Anonymous said...

This is an aside. It isn't difficult to understand why the Harper Government wants to sell off the CBC to private broadcasters. This country will be in a sorry mess if CBC is sold. We will not ever get unbiased reports again. Please protest this attempt to let CBC go.

Fish said...

Can't say that I've ever heard of Attaran, but I took most of my classes in French, so if he treaches in English, I would not likely have run into him.

Here are some of his articles:

Take Your Medicine?: The Risk of Patient-Led Litigation in
Canada's Medicine Access System
Amir Attaran*, McGill Journal of Law and Health / Revue de droit et santé de McGill(2009) 3 McGill J.L. & Health 3 - 20 /(2009) 3 R. dr. & santé McGill 3 - 20

TITLE: Mandamus in the Enforcement of the Criminal Law: Ending the Anti-Protest Injunction Habit -- Issues Arising from MacMillan Bloedel v. Simpson AUTHOR: Case comment by Amir Attaran, SOURCE: University of British Columbia Law Review CITED: (1999) 33 U.B.C. L. Rev. 181-197

And yes, I suppose you're right, there is zero chance of prosecution of any cabinet member while the Conservatives are in power, and still little chance if ever Iggy is elected.

Anonymous said...

If Amir Attaran has come accross irrefutable evidence of war crimes, why does he not come forward with this evidence? As a lawyer who has devoted nearly his entire career towards advocating for human rights, he should demonstrate the strength of his convictions and join the ranks of other martyrs in the cause of truth such as Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg and Paul Watson, and reveal his evidence without any regards to the personal consequences. If he sits on that evidence, is he not culpable of aiding and abetting the perpetrators of torture?