From Friday’s Globe and Mail
February 1, 2008
“The Harper government knew, but tried to keep secret since last spring, allegations that the governor of Kandahar was personally involved in torture and abuse of detainees.”
“Government documents detailing the accusations were heavily censored by the government which, claiming national security, blacked out the references to “the governor.” But multiple sources, both inside and outside the government, confirm that the words “the governor” have been censored as have whole passages referring to secret cells allegedly run by Mr. Khalid outside the official prison system.
Rumours have long linked Mr. Khalid to secret prisons. That he had close ties with U.S. intelligence agents and special forces had been known since Canadian troops arrived in southern Afghanistan in early 2006. But Ottawa didn’t confront an accusation of the governor’s direct involvement in the interrogation and torture of prisoners until it sent diplomats to inspect the main secret police prison in Kandahar on April 25, 2007.”
Asadullah Khalid, governor of Ghazni province (left), has a conversation with Col. Gary H. Cheek, commander of Combined Task Force Thunder (center), and Lt. Col. Christopher Carney, Combined Task Force Thunder director of civil-military operations, during a break in the governors conference in Ghazni, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bradley Rhen)
There he stands, Peter McKay, as some Canadian version of John Wayne with a man who is now exposed as a torturer – a Canadian ally. Oh Jack Granatstein where is the glory how, eh?
The Globe and Mail published a report by Paul Koring which recounts a sorry tale of torture and the active role played by Governor Asadullah Khalid – a man who is not guilty of a torture policy alone – no – this “governor” IS a torturer.
Koring reports that “[t]he allegations against Governor Asadullah Khalid …were regarded as sufficiently credible that senior officials in Ottawa were immediately informed and Canadian diplomats secretly reported them to the International Red Cross and Afghanistan’s main human-rights group.” Koring quotes Gavin Buchan, a Canadian diplomat and Linda Garwood-Filbert, the head of the Canadian Corrections team in Afghanistan: “Another prisoner beckoned to us [and] [h]e went on to state he had been interrogated by foreigners and the governor … [h]e alleged that the governor beat him and gave him electric shocks…” Koring writes that “[w]ithin days, senior Canadian diplomats had passed on the reports [of Garwood-Filbert and Buchan] to both the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.”
Most Canadians who follow the “war on terror” would not be surprised to hear of allegations of torture in this context. But what do we expect of our leaders and diplomats who encounter direct evidence of it? Koring details that “[i]t remains unclear whether the allegation of torture against Mr. Khalid has ever been investigated, as is required under the new detainee-transfer agreement.” And further, Koring writes that “Canadian ministers continue to meet Mr. Khalid, but the Prime Minister broke with usual practice when he went to Kandahar less than a month after a prisoner told the Canadian diplomats that Mr. Khalid had tortured him.”
It appears that the Prime Minister has some explaining to do. It probably should be before a human rights tribunal and maybe Canadians can start the process by defeating this government by demanding that the liberals and NDP withdraw all support come any vote. The sooner the better, for the sake of the Canadian conscience, and the true security of the Afghan people.