Saturday, January 26, 2008

Detainee Transfers: Did We Really Quit?

Whooee! So, there was a new policy on detainees put into place on November 5th or 6th, 2007. Around December 19th, Brigadier General Deschamps made statements under oath in an affidavit filed with the Federal Court. The General paints a dire picture of what would happen if we quit handing over prisoners to the Afghanis.

But, but, but... we'd already quit doing that 5 weeks earlier.

Top soldier speaks out on detainee transfers

Battle against Taliban would 'collapse' under ban, Brigadier-General André Deschamps says

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

A top military commander says in a sworn affidavit Canadian troops would have to quit fighting the Taliban if they could not hand prisoners over to Afghan authorities.

Listing a long series of possible embarrassments and defeats, Brigadier-General André Deschamps outlined what he says would be the dire consequences, including losing the war, should a Federal Court judge rule in favour of a request by human-rights groups to issue an injunction banning the transfer of detainees to Afghan prisons because of the risk of torture or abuse.


Gen. Deschamps says such an injunction would result in Canadian Forces retreating to secure bases because they 'would not be able to capture individuals who pose a threat to the Canadian Forces, our allies or the [International Security Assistance Force] mission.'

In documents filed with the Federal Court, Gen. Deschamps, the chief of staff of Canada's Expeditionary Force Command that runs combat operations in Afghanistan, goes so far as to suggest the Taliban might win the war, at least in Kandahar, if the court were to grant the injunction.

He also warns that Canada's troops would be forced to cease medical treatment of Afghan children and even cancel inspections of Afghan prisons to check on previously transferred detainees. Training the Afghan army and police would also be halted, he said.

How could the guy in charge be unaware of the change in policy?

If the boss general didn't know on December 19th and was still under the impression that all these bad things would happen should we quit the handovers, who did know?

If he did know that we'd quit handing over prisoners five weeks earlier, why was he still pedaling the dire consequences of such a move? If he believed his own testimony, how could he allow the transfers to stop?

How can NATO have been unaware of the change in policy?
If we were so sure of torture at the hands of the Afghanis, why didn't we communicate our proof to other NATO forces so that they would also know? I would say we have at least a moral obligation to help our allies avoid committing war crimes by handing over prisoners to known torturers.

The biggest question: Did we really quit? How do we know? Can we take our government's word for anything? Can we take General Deschamps' word? Is someone misspeaking?

Another day, another jillion questions.


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