Saturday, February 02, 2008

Afghan Detainees Routinely Bribe Their Way Out

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, Newsweek magazine has a bigass story about Afghan detainees. It don't say much about torture. Newsweek's a Merkan magazine, after all, and Merkans are fairly torture-tolerant. Merkans ain't too corruption-tolerant, though. Especially, when that corruption means there's more Talibans takin' shots at NATO.

The Newsweek story's all about how most Afghani detainees bribe their way out of jail.

The whole dang system's rotten. They got Talibans they've captured three times; and three times, the Talibans bribed their way outta jail. After these Talibans bribe their way outta jail, they go back to fightin' NATO. Killin' Canadians.

Corrupt Afghan cops, judges and jailers are sabotaging the war effort in Afghanistan. While no official statistics are publicly available, hundreds of captured militants every year appear to be buying their way out of official custody. NDS spokesman Saeed Ansari denies that the directorate has ever taken payment for releasing prisoners. Nevertheless, sources in the U.S. and Afghan governments and inside the Taliban itself have told NEWSWEEK that in Afghanistan's detention system, freedom is always up for sale. "It's very true," says a U.S. counterterrorism official, declining to be named on such a sensitive issue. "It happens a lot, on a regular basis." The official rattles off the noms de guerre of fighters whose backdoor releases have caught the attention of U.S. authorities: " 'Red Eye' … 'Uncle' … 'Mullah Crazy' ... It's a continuing thing."

And it's everywhere. In southern Afghanistan, Western residents have remarked for years on the relative scarcity of Taliban detainees in local police holding cells, despite the hundreds of insurgents who are arrested there every year. In Ghazni province, Bari boasts that 60 to 70 percent of Taliban fighters detained by the local police are turned loose as soon as payoffs can take place. A senior government official in an- other eastern Afghan province, speaking anonymously because the topic is so sensitive, says Kabul's jails don't seem much better at keeping dangerous men locked up. His forces have captured "a significant number" of Taliban and sent them with "strong evidence" to Kabul. He expected them to be in jail a long time, he says, but thanks to crooked cops and the corrupt judicial apparatus, many detainees have already returned to the insurgents' ranks in his province. "It's a serious issue," he says, adding that the whole system urgently needs a cleanup.

Bari and other Taliban sources say their group has a network of agents across eastern and southern Afghanistan whose job it is to buy freedom for captured insurgents. The size of the bribe—from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000—depends on various factors: how important the detainee is, what his mission was and what type of weapons he was carrying. The price and the complications rise exponentially with every transfer of a detainee up the official chain of command. If struck by a twinge of conscience, notoriously underpaid local members of the Afghan National Police can tell themselves that if they don't accept a payoff, someone higher on the ladder will. Too often, they're right.

Yeow!! Canajuns have been concerned about handin' over POW's to the Afghans. We're worried about Afghani's torturin' detainees and we need to worry about that. But we also need to worry about the Afghani's takin' bribes and lettin' these guys go so's they can kill more Canajuns.

Yesterday, I wrote about how the AIHRC is pushin' to get Canada to resume detainee transfers. They said it was because the locals suspect the Canajuns of torturin' their people. After readin' the Newsweek story, I ain't so sure about that. I wonder how much corruption exists within the AIHRC. Are they callin' for a resumption so's the bribery and payoffs can resume?

Guys like Hillier and Harper and MacKay say that Afghan prisoners are the sole responsibility of the Afghans and we shouldn't be meddling in their sovereign right to treat prisoners as they historically have. We hand over suspected Talibans and the Afghan authorities use them as a revenue source and release them as soon as the sufficient bribes are proffered. Then, General Hillier, they come back and kill your soldiers. Then, Prime Minister Harper, the opium crop you protect provides the money for the bribes. Then, Defence Minister MacKay, the narco-sate you support slips even further into corruption and lawlessness.

We must monitor detainees handed over to Afghan authorities. We cannot trust these so-called allies. We cannot trust them to treat prisoners humanely. We cannot trust them to rebuff bribery and keep these enemy fighters in prison.

One of the biggest reasons we can't trust them is that they are dirt poor and desperate. They are easily bribed. Top Taliban commanders are released for as little as $1100. The cops and army are poor because the central government can't be trusted to pay the cops and army.

We say we're in Afghanistan to rebuild their nation, to help them create a democratic society that respects human rights. Yet, we're turning a blind eye to corruption that pervades every level of the government. We're turning a blind eye to torture. We're turning a blind eye to bribery -- even when that bribery is freeing Talibans to kill Canadians. We're turning a blind eye to the opium economy of the narco-state we've helped create. We're turning a blind eye to the strict enforcement of Sharia law where death sentences are handed down for "humiliating Islam."

We must open our eyes to the reality of the Afghan mission.

Not in my name!

Change the climate in Parliament.


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