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[FirstpublishedattheCentreforResearchonGlobalization(24April2011),
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24473,andreproducedonlineatsixotherwebsites.
ThepresentversioncontainssomeadditionalmaterialontheattitudesofseniorCanadianmilitaryofficers
towardsthetortureofAfghandetainees.]

[Index:Canadianpolitics,StephenHarper,Afghanistan,torture]
[Date:April2011]

PrimeMinisterStephenHarper
andCanadianWarCrimesinAfghanistan

MichaelKeefer

Torturehasbeenagrimcomponentofnearlyeveryaspectofthecurrentwarin
Afghanistan.SettingasidethebehaviourbothoftheTalibanregimeandoftheirAfghan
opponents,thewarlordsoftheNorthernAlliance,whichincludedgrievousviolationsof
humanrights,USforceswereinvolvedintorturefromalmostthemomentoftheirarrival
inAfghanistaninlate2001.
Intheyearsafter2001,theUSgovernmentattemptedtojustifyitsinvasionand
occupationofAfghanistanthroughnarrativesofthe9/11terroristattacksthatwerebased
almostentirelyonconfessionselicitedbytorturefromactualorsuspectedassociatesof
OsamabinLaden.
Andtorturehasbeenanintegralpartofthecounterinsurgencytacticsemployed

2
bytheUS,itsNATOallies,andtheKarzairegime.Thesetacticsinvolvinginfantry
sweepsthroughcommunitiesinwhosevicinityresistancehasbeenencountered,moreor
lessindiscriminatearrests,andthehandingoverofprisonerstotheAfghanpoliceorto
theNationalDirectorateofSecurity,whoseintelligence(basedontorture)thenserves
asaguidetofurtherarrestshavevictimizedlargenumbersofcivilians,mostofthem
peoplewithnoconnectiontotheAfghanresistance.
Canada,asapractitionerofthesetactics,hasbeenimplicatedforatleastthepast
sixyearsinadetaineetorturescandal,oneofwhoseconsequenceshasbeenveryserious
damagetoCanadasinternationalreputation.Thereisevidencethatthisscandalreaches
totheveryhighestlevelsoftheCanadiangovernment.

1.IllegalityoftheAfghanistanWar
Growingnumbersofpeopleareskepticalaboutthejustificationsofferedbythe
UnitedStatesfortheinvasionandoccupationofAfghanistan.Nearlyalloftheevidence
inthekeychaptersofthe 9/11CommissionReport whichassignresponsibilityforthe
9/11terroristattacksisderivedfromtorturewhichmeansthatthesechaptershavethe
epistemicvalueofpurefiction.(Oneofthemajorsources,KhalidSheikhMohammed,
was waterboarded 183 times by the CIA; his confessions were confirmed by the
interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times. The 9/11
Commissionsrequeststointerviewthesehighvalueprisoners,orevenjusttheirCIA
interrogators,weredenied;andin2005,indefianceofcourtorders,theCIAdestroyedits
videotapesoftheinterrogations.)1
1

Inearly2008awardwinningjournalistRobertWindremshowedinananalysisforNBCNewsthatmore
thanonequarterofallfootnotesinthe9/11CommissionReport,andnearlyallofthoseinthekeychapters,
arebasedontorture;seeWindrem,Blogs&Stories:CheneysRoleDeepens,TheDailyBeast(13May
2009),http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogsandstories/20090513/cheneysroledeepens/p/;andThe
9/11Commission&Torture:HowInformationGainedThroughWaterboarding&HarshInterrogations
FormMajorPartof9/11CommissionReport,DemocracyNow!(7February2008),
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/7/the_9_11_commission_torture_how.SeealsoSeptember11
mastermindKhalidSheikhMohammedwaterboarded183times,TheSundayTimes(20April2009),
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6130165.ece;andComplete911
Timeline:DestructionofCIAInterrogationTapes,HistoryCommons,

3
TheinvasionofAfghanistanappearstohavebeenprimarilymotivatedbythe
energygeopoliticsofanewGreatGame.WhentheTalibancametopowerin1996,
therewerenegotiationsforaUnocalpipelinefromtheCaspianBasingasfieldsacross
AfghanistanintoPakistanandthencetotheIndianOcean.ButafterOsamabinLadens
1998bombingsofUSembassiesinEastAfricaandretaliatoryTomahawkstrikesinto
Afghanistan, these talks collapsed. There is evidence that in the summer of 2001
months before the 9/11 attacksAmerican diplomats threatened the Taliban that
continuedobstructionofthepipelineplanwouldresultinabombingcampaign,andtheir
overthrow,byOctoberofthatyear.2
USandCanadian governmentofficials havescoffedatthenotionthatenergy
geopoliticshadanythingtodowiththeinvasionandoccupationofAfghanistan.Butin
June 2008 the distinguished petroleum economist John Foster, who has worked for
BritishPetroleum,theWorldBank,PetroCanada,andtheInterAmericanDevelopment
Bank,publishedamonographonthesubjectofplansfora$7.6billionTurkmenistan
AfghanistanPakistanIndia(TAPI)naturalgas pipeline thatwasgoingtobebuilt,at
American insistence, in 2010and the Canadian government acknowledged that
Canadian forces would indeed be assigned to protect the pipeline, whose route lies
throughKandaharprovince,wheremostofourcasualtieshavebeensuffered.3
However,itwasfordifferentreasonsthatonOctober9,2001,twodaysafterthe
bombing of Afghanistan began, Michael Mandel, of Torontos Osgoode Hall Law
School,declaredtheattackillegal.Inhiswords,itviolate[d]internationallawandthe
expresswordsoftheUnitedNationsCharter,whoseArticle51onlygivesastatethe
righttorepelanattackthatisongoingorimminentasatemporarymeasureuntiltheUN
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?
timeline=complete_911_timeline&complete_911_timeline__war_on_terrorism__outside_iraq=complete_9
11_timeline_destruction_of_cia_tapes.
2
MichelChossudovsky,AmericasWaronTerrorism(Pincourt,Qubec:GlobalResearch,2005),p.66.
3
JohnFoster,APipelineThroughaTroubledLand:Afghanistan,Canada,andtheNewGreatEnergy
Game(Ottawa:CanadianCentreforPolicyAlternatives,June19,2008);seealsoShawnMcCarthy,
PipelineopensnewfrontinAfghanwar,TheGlobeandMail(19June2008),
http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080619.wafghanpipeline19/BNStory/Afghanistan;
andMcCarthy,Wouldhelpprotectpipeline,Canadasays,TheGlobeandMail(20June2008),
http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080620.wafghanpipeline20/BNStory/SHAWN+M
CCARTHY.

4
SecurityCouncilcantakestepsnecessaryforinternationalpeaceandsecurity. 4Sincethe
attack was not ongoing,5 and since neither of the UN Security Council resolutions
condemning the September 11 attacks can remotely be said to authorize the use of
militaryforce,MandeldeclaredthatthosewhodiefromtheattackonAfghanistanwill
bevictimsofacrimeagainsthumanity,justlikethevictimsoftheSept.11attacks. 6In
November2001,ThomasJeffersonSchoolofLawprofessorMarjorieCohnmadesimilar
arguments,addingthatthebombingwasnotlegitimateselfdefencebecausetheatrocities
of9/11werecriminalattacks,notarmedattacksbyanotherstate.7
Subsequently expounded by Mandel and by Cohn at greater length, and
supplementedbyfurtherconsiderations,includingthefactthatinSeptemberandOctober
2001theTalibanregimeofferedtogiveBinLadenupfortrialinathirdcountry, 8these
viewsaresharedbyotherleadingspecialistsininternationallaw,amongthemFrancis
Boyle,AlexConte,andMyraWilliamson.9

MichaelMandel,ThisWarisIllegal,CounterPunch(9October2001),
http://www.counterpunch.org/mandel5.html.
5
GraemeMacQueen,foundingdirectorofMcMasterUniversitysInstituteofPeaceStudies,hasnotedthat
theanthraxattacksintheUS,whosefirstvictimdiedonOctober5(twodaysbeforetheassaulton
Afghanistanbegan),createdtheappearanceofanongoingalQaedaattacksupportedbyIraq.Initially
identifiedbytheFBIasIraqiinorigin,theanthraxinfactcamefromaUSweaponslab,andthecoatings
appliedtoitrequiredhightechexpertisethatthescientistlaterfingeredbytheFBIastheloneperpetrator
didnotpossess.SeeMacQueen,TheConnectionBetween9/11,Anthrax,andIraq(1May2010),
availableat911Blogger.com,http://911blogger.com/news/20100510/drgraememacqueenconnection
between911anthraxandiraq050110walkerton15.
6
Mandel,ThisWarisIllegal.
7
MarjorieCohn,BombingofAfghanistanisIllegalandMustbeStopped,Jurist(6November2001),
http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forum/forumnew36.htm.
8
SeeBushrejectsTalibanoffertohandBinLadenover,TheGuardian(14October2001),
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5;andAndrewBuncombe,Bush
rejectsTalibanoffertosurrenderbinLaden,TheIndependent(15October2001),
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bushrejectstalibanoffertosurrenderbinladen
631436.html.
9
MichaelMandel,HowAmericaGetsAwayWithMurder:IllegalWars,CollateralDamage,andCrimes
AgainstHumanity(London:PlutoPress,2004);andMarjorieCohn,CowboyRepublic:SixWaystheBush
GangHasDefiedtheLaw(Sausalito,CA:PodipointPress,2007).SeealsoFrancisBoyle,Destroying
WorldOrder:U.SImperialismintheMiddleEastBeforeandAfterSeptember11th(Atlanta,GA:Clarity
Press,2004);AlexConte,Securityinthe21stCentury:TheUnitedNations,Afghanistan,andIraq
(Aldershot,Hants:Ashgate,2005);andMyraWilliamson,Terrorism,WarandInternationalLaw:The
LegalityoftheUseofForceAgainstAfghanistanin2001(Aldershot,Hants:Ashgate,2009).

2.TheCanadianTortureScandal
IllegalitiesofamoreconcretenaturehavecometohauntCanadasparticipation
in the war in Afghanistan. In December 2001, a cover of legality was given to the
formationofanoccupationarmy,orInternationalSecurityAssistanceForce(ISAF),by
theUNSecurityCouncilsacceptanceoftheclaimthatthisforcewasestablishedatthe
requestoftheGovernment ofAfghanistan10whichatthetimeconsistedofHamid
Karzai,protectedbyaguardofUSSEALandBritishSBSspecialforcessoldiers,anda
loosecoalitionofUSfinancedNorthernAlliancewarlords.Butitwasthequestionof
howtodisposeofAfghanscapturedbyCanadiantroops,whetherincombatconditionsor
merelyundersuspicion,thatdevelopedintoaspecificallyCanadianscandal.
In January 2002, there were questions in Parliament over the revelation that
membersoftheJointTaskForce2unit,aftertakingpartinthefightingintheToraBora
mountains,hadtransferredprisonersintoUScustody.11ThehorrorsofAbuGraibinIraq
becamepublicknowledgeattheendofApril2004;shortlyafterward,itwasrevealedthat
prisonersheldbytheUSinAfghanistanwerealsosystematicallytortured,andinatleast
five cases had died from their treatment. In June 2004, a Human Rights Watch
spokesman declared that in US prisons in Afghanistan The entire system operates
outsidetheruleoflaw.AtleastinIraq,theUSistryingtorunasystemthatmeets
Genevastandards.InAfghanistan,theyrenot.12
WiththeoptionofCanadianrunPOWcampsruledoutfromthestart,andwith
furthertransfersintoUSprisonsbecomingpoliticallyimpossible,theCanadianForces
ThewordingisfromanotableUKcourtdecision:Paragraph15ofRegina(Evans)vs.SecretaryofState
forDefence,HighCourtofJustice,QueensBenchDivision,DivisionalCourt,[2010]EWHC1445
(Admin),25June2010,http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/60E1560B7E8A4C3CA886
C309B35237AD/0/revansvssdjudgment.pdf.
11
SeeMichaelByers,Afghanistan:WrongMissionforCanada,TheTyee(6October2006),
http://thetyee.ca/Views/2006/10/06/Afghanistan/;theparliamentarystirisdiscussedbyJaniceGrossStein
andEugeneLang,TheUnexpectedWar:CanadainKandahar(Toronto:VikingCanada,2007).
12
QuotedbyDuncanCambellandSuzanneGoldenberg,TheysaidthisisAmericaifasoldierorders
youtotakeoffyourclothes,youmustobey,TheGuardian(23June2004),
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jun/23/usa.afghanistan;seealsoDavidTownsend,ThePassionof
DilawarofYakubi,NationalCatholicReporter(12August2005),
http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2005c/081205/081205z.htm.
10

6
passed captives on to Afghan authorities, amid unlikely claims that statebuilding
programsweretakingeffect.Butevenafteracquiringafaadeoflegitimacythroughthe
2004presidentialand2005parliamentaryelections,13theKarzairegimeremainedoneto
whichanytransferofprisonerswasamostdubiousmatter.By2005,EileenOlexiuk,the
secondrankingCanadiandiplomatinKabul,wasraisingconcernstothePaulMartin
governmentaboutthefateoftransferreddetainees.14Hermessageswereignored,anda
toothless memorandum of agreement regarding detainee transfers that was signed in
December2005byGeneralRickHillier,ChiefoftheDefenceStaff,andtheAfghan
Minister of Defence, contained no provisions for followup access to detainees. 15
Evidence ofsystematic torture continued to accumulate, andRichard Colvin, whoin
20062007heldthediplomaticpositionOlexiukhadoccupied,calledattentiontoitin
urgent messages which he circulated as widely as possible through all the official
governmentandmilitarychannelsavailabletohim.16
Article12oftheThirdGenevaConventioniscategorical:Prisonersofwarmay
onlybetransferred[]toaPowerwhichisapartytotheConventionandafterthe
Detaining Power has satisfied itself of the willingness and ability of such transferee
PowertoapplytheConvention.17 Afghanistanhasbeenapartytothe 1949Geneva
Conventionssince1956,andinlate2009accededtothe1977AdditionalProtocolsIand
II,whichprotectvictimsofinternationalconflictsandcivilwars. 18However,Olexiuks
13

AccordingtotheAfghanistanIndependentHumanRightsCommission(AIHRC),theelectionswere
markedbydebilitatingtechnicalproblems,andbywidespreadintimidationandelectoralfraud.Forrelevant
articles,seePressforConversion59(September2006),availableathttp://coat.ncf.ca.
14
Afghandetaineetortureriskraisedin2005,CBCNews(10March2010),
http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/03/09/detaineeafghandiplomat.html.
15
SeeArrangementfortheTransferofDetaineesbetweentheCanadianForcesandtheMinistryof
DefenceoftheIslamicRepublicofAfghanistan(18December2005),
http://www.afghanistan.gc.ca/canadaafghanistan/assets/pdfs/Dec2005.pdf.
16
SeeRichardColvin,AffidavitfortheMilitaryPoliceComplaintsCommission(5October2009),
http://www3.thestar.com/static/PDF/Colvin_Affidavit.pdf.
17
Convention(III)relativetotheTreatmentofPrisonersofWar.Geneva,12August1949,Art.12,
http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/375?OpenDocument.
18
SeeICRCAnnualReport2009,Annex:StatesPartytotheGenevaConventionsandtheirAdditional
Protocols,pp.48889,http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/annualreport/icrcannualreport2009states
party.pdf,wheretheaccessiondategivenis10November2009;andAfghanistanaccedestoAdditional
ProtocolsIandIIinhistoricsteptolimitwartimesuffering,ICRCResourceCentre(24June2009),
http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/document/newsrelease/afghanistannews240609.htm;thiswouldmean
thattheProtocolscameintoforceaftersixmonths,on24December.

7
andColvinsmessagesshowthatCanadahadnotsatisfieditselfdespitewhatever
seniorofficialsmightsaythattheKarzairegimewouldtreatprisonersdecently.
Even without direct statements from Canadian diplomats, senior military and
civilianofficialscouldhavenogroundsforpretendingignorance.InDecember2009,
Lawyers Against the War (LAW) itemized in an Open letter to the Parliamentary
SpecialCommitteeontheCanadianMissioninAfghanistantheevidencethatCanadas
detaineepoliciesviolatedCanadianandinternationallaw.19 Bythespringof2007,this
includedinadditiontolegalopinionssentbyLAWonFebruary1,2004andMarch6,
2007toPrimeMinistersMartinandHarperandtheirseniorministersexpressionsof
concernbyAmnestyInternationalinearly2002overdetaineetransferstoUSforces,and
inDecember2005overthewidespread,longstandingrealityoftorturethroughoutthe
Afghan prison system;20 the Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of
HumanRightsinAfghanistan,M.CherifBassouni,totheUNCommissiononHuman
Rights(11March2005),referringtotorturepracticescurrentwithintheAfghansecurity
system;TheLondonCompactofFebruary1,2006,whichsetasagoalfortheendof
2010the Afghan states adoption of corrective measures [] aimed at preventing
arbitraryarrestanddetention,torture,extortionandillegalappropriationofpropertywith
aviewtotheeliminationofthesepractices; 21andtheUSStateDepartmentsreporton
Afghanistanin2006,whichnotedreportsbyhumanrightsorganizations thatAfghan
authorities in Herat, Helmand and elsewhere used torture consisting of pulling out
fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and
sodomy.22
Ironically, it was evidence of prisoner abuse in Canadian rather than Afghan
custody,obtainedinearlyFebruary2007byUniversityofOttawalawprofessorAmir
19

LawyersAgainsttheWar,Torture:TheTransfersofAfghanPrisoners.LettertoCanadasHouseof
Commons,CentreforResearchonGlobalization(22December2009),
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16648.
20
ThesearethewordsofAlexNeve,SecretaryGeneralofAmnestyInternationalCanada,quotedbyLAW
fromhistestimonyonMarch4,2008totheStandingCommitteeonForeignAffairsandInternational
Development.
21
BuildingonSuccess,TheLondonConferenceonAfghanistan:TheLondonCompact(1February2006),
http://anama.unmissions.org/Portals/UNAMA/Documents/AfghanistanCompactEnglish.pdf.
22
Afghanistan,http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78868.htm.

8
AttaranandpassedontotheMilitaryPoliceComplaintsCommission,thathelpedtogive
theissueincreasedpublicprominence.23Aquicksuccessionofothereventsbroughtthe
pottoaboil.OnFebruary21,2007,AmnestyInternationalandtheBCCivilLiberties
Association applied for a judicial review of Canadas detaineetransfer policy. 24 In
March,theMinisterofNationalDefence,GordonOConnor,acknowledgedthatsince
April2006hehadrepeatedlymisledtheHouseofCommonsbyfalselyclaimingthatthe
RedCrosswasmonitoringtransferredprisonersonCanadasbehalf. 25AndonApril23,
2007, TheGlobeandMail publishedaninvestigativereport,basedoninterviewswith
thirty Afghan prisoners whom the Canadian army had handed over to the Afghan
NationalDirectorateofSecurity,whichshowedtheyhadbeensystematicallytortured,
with apparent Canadian complicity.26 University of British Columbia law professor
MichaelByerscommented:Ifthisreportisaccurate,Canadianshaveengagedinwar
crimes,notonlyindividuallybutalsoasamatterofpolicy.27
The Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry prompted by Professor
AttiranscomplaintsubpoenaedthediplomatRichardColvin,whoinlate2009,whenthe
MPCCs proceedings had been seriously delayed by interventions from the Harper
23

SeeMilitaryprobesabuseallegationsinAfghanistan,CBCNews(6February2007),
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/02/06/militaryprobe.html.InthisandfollowingparagraphIam
indebtedtothearticleCanadianAfghandetaineeissue,Wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Afghan_detainee_issue(consultedon28January2011).
24
PaulKoring,AmnestyslamsCanadaoverAfghandetainees,TheGlobeandMail(21February2007,
updated31March2009),http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/article743285.ece.Onthe
strengthofagovernmentdecisioninlateFebruary2007tosuspendtransfers,effectiveNovember5,2007,
duetoallegationsoftorture,FederalCourtJusticeAnneMactavishdismissedtheapplicationforjudicial
review.(ThusbetweentheendofFebruaryandNovember5,2007theCanadianForcesappeartohave
beentransferringprisonersintoAfghanprisonsthattheFederalCourthadeffectivelyacknowledgedtobe
insystematicviolationoftheThirdGenevaConvention.)TransfersbeganagainonFebruary29,2008.(For
details,seeAmnestyInternationalandBritishColumbiaCivilLibertiesAssociationv.ChiefofDefence
StafffortheCanadianArmedForces,etal.,BCCivilLibertiesAssociation,
http://www.bccla.org/antiterrorissue/afghan.htm.)
25
OConnorsorryformisinformingHouseonAfghandetainees,CBCNews(19March2007),
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/03/19/afghanapology.html;seealsoPaulKoring,RedCross
contradictsOttawaondetainees,TheGlobeandMail(8March2007,updated31March2009),
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/article746018.ece.
26
GraemeSmith,FromCanadiancustodyintocruelhands.Savagebeatings,electrocution,whippingand
extremecold:DetaineesdetailalitanyofabusesbyAfghanauthorities,TheGlobeandMail(23April
2007),http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/article92169.ece;alsoavailableat
http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070423.wdetainee23/BNStory/Afghanistan.
27
AfghanPrisonerTortureScandal:WarCrimes,Ceasefire.ca(23April2007),
http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=118.

9
government,28wasalsocalledbeforetheHouseofCommonsSpecialCommitteeonthe
CanadianMissioninAfghanistan.InOctober2009,shortlybeforehetestifiedthere,the
claimsofPrimeMinisterHarperandDefenceMinisterPeterMacKaythattheyhadnot
beeninformedonthedetaineeissuewerevigorouslyrefutedbyGeneralRickHilliers
memoir,ASoldierFirst.29
ButColvinstestimonyonNovember18,2009wasmorethoroughlydamagingin
itsexposureofhighlevellawlessness.HerevealedthattheCanadianmilitaryssystemof
reportingthetransferofdetaineesdelayedfollowup,makingitallthemorelikelythat
theywouldbetortured(ashissourcesthoughtnearlyallofthemwere);heclaimedthatin
20062007 senior Foreign Affairs officialsincluding David Mulroney, the Assistant
Deputy Minister responsible for Afghanistan, who was also Prime Minister Harpers
Foreign and Defence Policy Advisorhad censored and blocked the distribution of
dispatches fromKabul; and he exposed the fact that the government had made very
determinedattemptstointimidatehimandpreventhimfromgivingtestimony.Finally,
Colvinexcoriatedpoliciesunderwhich,disregard[ing]ourcoreprinciplesandvalues,
Canadiansretainedandhandedoverforseveretorturealotofinnocentpeople,which
isaveryseriousviolationofinternationalandCanadianlaw,andwhichalsoalienated
usfromthepopulationandstrengthenedtheinsurgency.30

3.RunningWiththeBigDogs
28

JaniceTibbetts,Toriestrytoblockwitnessesatmilitarycommission,CanwestNewsService(1
October2009),
http://www.canada.com/news/Tories+block+witnesses+military+commission/2055852/story.html;fora
fulleraccountofHarpersobstructionoftheMPCC,seeMurrayDobbin,HarpersHitlist:Power,Process
andtheAssaultonDemocracy,Part4:ControllingCritics,TheCouncilofCanadians(15April2010),
http://www.canadians.org/democracy/documents/p4.pdf.
29
GeneralRickHillier,ASoldierFirst:Bullets,BureaucratsandthePoliticsofWar(Toronto:
HarperCollins,2009);seeJohnIbbitson,PMOtoldaboutAfghanjailconditions,Hillierwrites,The
GlobeandMail(21October2009),
http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/GAM.20091021.HILLIER21ART2244/TPStory/TPComment.
30
RichardColvinsTestimony,18November2009,FAIR,http://fairwhistleblower.ca/content/richard
colvinstestimony.SeealsoColvinsfollowupstatement,FurtherEvidenceofRichardColvintothe
SpecialCommitteeonAfghanistan,December16,2009,availableathttp://www.cbc.ca/news/pdf/further
evidencespecialcommittee.pdf,andfromtheTorontoStar,
http://www3.thestar.com/static/PDF/FurtherEvidencetoSpecialCommittee.pdf.

10

Complicityintorture,Colvinremindedtheparliamentarians,isawarcrime.
Bythesummerof2010,despiteadisgracefulsmearcampaignagainstColvinledby
DefenceMinisterPeterMacKay(whichpromptedapublicletterofrebukesignedby
more than 100 former diplomats, many of them ambassadors),31 despite Stephen
HarpersshuttingdownoftheMPCCbyrefusingtoappointareplacement whenits
chairstermofofficeexpired,andhisproroguingoftheHouseofCommonsinorderto
close down the parliamentary committee which had heard Colvins evidence (this
prompted a public letter signed by more than 175 professors of political science
denouncing Harper for having violated the trust of Parliament and of the Canadian
people),32anddespiteHarpersdefianceofParliamentscalltohavealloftherelevant
documentsreleased,thefullextentanddepthofthatcomplicitywasevident.
Highlysegmentedstatestructuresmayoftenseemtooperateinanalmostchaotic
manner.Butattimesevenwhenthegoverningpartyisdoingitsbesttoobscureand
denyaccesstotheevidenceaclearconstellation ofintentionalityemerges fromthe
murk. With help from the late Jack Hooper, who was CSIS Assistant Director of
Operationsfrom2002to2005,andDeputyDirectorofOperationsuntilhisretirementin
2007,wecangivethispatternaname.Knownforbeingpithyandoutspoken,Hooper
likedtotellhiscolleaguesthatIfyouregoingtorunwiththebigdogs,youdbetter
learntopissinthehighgrass.33
CSIS,wenowknow,wasinvolvedininterrogatingAfghanprisonersfromearly
2002untilDecember2007;andjournalistsJimBronskillandMurrayBrewsterlearned
fromanunnamedsourceorsourcesthatoneoftheKandaharinterrogationsitesusedby
CSIS,work[ing]alongsidetheAmericanCIAandinclosecooperationwithCanadas
secretive,eliteJTF2commandos,wasasecludedbasethisseemsapolitewayof

31

MurrayDobbin,HarpersHitlist:Power,ProcessandtheAssaultonDemocracy,Part2:Two
ProrogationsinLessThanaYear,TheCouncilofCanadians(15April2011),
http://www.canadians.org/democracy/documents/p2.pdf.
32
Ibid.
33
MichelleShephard,GuantanamosChild:TheUntoldStoryofOmarKhadr(Toronto:JohnWiley,
2008),p.57.

11
sayingblacksiteorsecrettorturefacilityknownasGraceland.34
RunningwiththebigdogsapparentlymeantcomplicityintheworkofAfghanas
wellasAmericantorturers.AsadullahKhalid,thegovernorofKandaharprovince,who
waswidelyaccusedofcorruption,drugtrafficking,anddirectpersonalinvolvementin
torture,seemstohaveretainedhispositionafter2006onlythankstotheinterventionsof
seniorCanadianmilitaryofficials.35GeneralRickHillier,theChiefoftheDefenceStaff
who famously defined the Taliban as scumbags and murderers whom it was the
Canadianarmysjobtokill,praisedKhalidsworkinearly2008asphenomenaland
associateditwithsomeincrediblechangesintheprovince,addingthatiftheresan
issue of any kind of impropriety whatsoever, thats an issue for the Afghanistan
government.36ItisofcourseanissuefortheCanadiangovernmentaswell.ScottTaylor,
a journalist with wide experience in Afghanistan, has endorsed Hilliers view of the
Taliban,butwithanimportantcorrective:Whathefailedtomentionisthattheguys
wereproppinguparealsoscumbagsandmurderers.37
Richard Colvins November 2009 testimony to the Parliamentary Special
CommitteerevealedanotheraspectofCanadascollaborationinAfghantortureavery
peculiarprocess,hecalledit,inwhichthenotificationofdetaineetransferswentfrom
34

JimBronskillandMurrayBrewster,CSISreviewingroleinAfghandetaineeinterrogations,Canadian
Press,availableinTheTorontoStar(2August2010),
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/843055csisreviewingroleinafghandetainee
interrogations.SeealsoMurrayBrewsterandJimBronskill,CSISplayedcriticalroleinAfghanprisoner
interrogations:documents,sources,CanadianPress(8March2010),availableat
http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fhostednews
%2Fcanadianpress%2Farticle%2FALeqM5jJLuGfEH6QP3vrNSLPiAGPZNqBcw&date=20100309;and
LeSCRStaitaucourantdecasdetorture,LaPresseCanadienne,availableatRadioCanada.ca(21
January2011),http://www.radiocanada.ca/nouvelles/International/2011/01/21/007scrsdetenusafghans
torture.shtml.
35
SeeStephanieLevitz,BrianLaghi,CampbellClarkandPaulKoring,Kandahargovernordeniestorture
claim,TheGlobeandMail(2February2008),
http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080202.wafghan
governor0201/BNStory/PAUL+KORING;KamranMirHazarandRobertMaier,AsadullahKhalids
Mafia,Kabulpress.org(3May2009),http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article3417;andAfghan
governorsrightsabusesknownin07,CBCNews(12April2010),
http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/04/12/afghangovernorhumanrightsabuses.html.SeealsoFurther
EvidenceofRichardColvintotheSpecialCommitteeonAfghanistan,December16,2009,pp.1314.
36
QuotedbyStephanieLevitzetal.,Kandahargovernordeniestortureclaim.
37
QuotedbyBeaVongdouangchanh,Werebringingtheuglytruthbacktothepeople,TheHillTimes
(6December2010),http://hilltimes.com/page/view/qnataylor1262010.TayloriseditorofEspritde
Corpsmagazine,andmakerofthedocumentaryAfghanistan:OutsidetheWire(2010).

12
theCanadianmilitary police inKandahartotheCanadianForcescommandgroupat
Kandaharairport,thentotheCanadianExpeditionaryForceCommand(CEFCOM)in
Ottawa, who informed the Canadian Embassy in Geneva, who contacted Red Cross
headquartersinGeneva,whoatlastnotifiedtheRedCrossmissioninKandahar.While
theDutchandBritish,whoalsohadtroopsinsouthernAfghanistan,notifiedtheRed
CrossofficeinKandahardirectlyaboutprisonertransfers,sothatwithinadayatmostthe
RedCrosscouldmonitortheirtreatment,thisCanadianpaperchasecouldtakeweeksor
evenmonthsduringwhichtimethetransferredprisonerbecameeffectivelyinvisible.
Whatmightseemanidioticinstanceofbureaucracyrunwildwasactuallypartof
a more serious wildness, a policy of deliberate obstructionism. For as Colvin also
testified,WhentheRedCrosswantedtoengageondetaineeissues,forthreemonthsthe
Canadian Forces in Kandahar wouldnt even take their phone calls. The same thing
happened tothe NATO ISAF command inKabul,whohadresponsibilities toreport
detaineenumberstoBrussels,butweretold,Weknowwhatyouwant,butwewonttell
you.38SeniorCanadianofficershaveindicatedthevaluetheyplacedonintelligence
receivedinregularmeetingswithleadersofAfghansnotoriousNationalDirectorateof
Security.39AndinaMay2007interviewwiththeOttawaCitizensDavidPugliese,one
ofthemwasquiteexplicitabouttheroletheCanadianmilitaryandNATOwereassigning
totheNDSinthecounterinsurgencywar:
Canadian Brig.Gen. Jim Ferron says he is confident that
AfghanistansNationalDirectorateofSecurityorNDSisfollowing
properprocedureswhenitinterrogatesinsurgentdetainees.
The general also pointed out that the NATOled International
38

RichardColvinsTestimony,18November2009.
SeeMurrayBrewster,CanadiangeneraldefendsAfghanintelligenceservice,deniestorture,Toronto
Star(9September2010),http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/afghanmission/article/858862canadian
generaldefendsafghanintelligenceservicedeniestorture;StephenChase,Militaryvowstoprobe
gravedetaineeaccusations,TheGlobeandMail(14April2010,updated15April2010),
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/militaryvowstoprobegravedetainee
accusations/article1534345/page1/;ThomasWalkom,Walkom:WasAfghantortureadeliberatetoolfor
Canada?TorontoStar(17April2010),http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/796809walkom
wasafghantortureadeliberatetoolforcanada.ForevidenceoftheconsistencyofthisuseofAfghan
torturersasintelligencegathererswithanearlierCanadianpolicyofusingSyrianandEgyptiantorturersin
thesameway,seeWalkom,Walkom:Torturebyremotecontrol,TorontoStar(24February2010),
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/770352walkomtorturebyremotecontrol.
39

13
Security Assistance Force is interested in further developing its
relationship with the NDS because it is a key Afghan government
agencyandtheintelligence itisprovidingishighlycredibleinthe
battleagainstinsurgents.
Wedliketomake(NDSintelligence)asignificantpartbecause
thebestinformationistheinformationthatcomesfromtheAfghans
themselves,saidBrig.Gen.Ferron,ISAFschiefintelligenceofficer.
Theyhavetheculturalnuancesthatwemaymiss.SoIthinkitssafe
tosaywewouldliketomakeitmoreapartofourdailyintelligence.
[][I]nterrogating[]isnotabadwordifitsdoneproperly
andprofessionally,heexplained.Thedetaineesaredetainedfora
reason.Theyhaveinformationweneed.
Brig.Gen. Ferron said much of the information a detainee
provides is not truthful and is aimed at deceiving military forces.
Thatswhyitisuptointelligenceanalyststosiftthroughwhatistruth
andwhatisdeception.Butifwedonthavetheinformationwecant
evenstartonthatprocess,headded.40
Ferrons words make clear the Canadian militarys dependence on NDS
intelligence,andthedeterminationofseniorofficerstoignore,obfuscate,anddismiss
thebythistimemassiveevidenceofNDStorturepractices.InmidMay2007,someone
ofFerronsrankandpositioncouldhardlyhavebeenignorantoftheurgentmessages
aboutdetaineetorturethatRichardColvinhadbeensendingfromKandaharandfromthe
embassy in Kabul between Mayand December 2006or ofthe fact that, as Colvin
writes, embassy officials had supplemented their written reports by interven[ing]
directlywithpolicymakers:
Forexample,inearlyMarch2007,Iinformedaninteragencymeeting
40

DavidPugliese,NATOseesimportanceofsecretAfghaninfo:Intelligencecrucialinfightagainst
Taliban,OttawaCitizen(16May2007),availableonlineatCanada.com,
http://www2.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=636a562e666942c798fc9d92088f05f7.Iam
indebtedforknowledgeofthisarticletoGarethPorter,TheTortureMill:WhytheUSandNATOFed
DetaineestoBrutalAfghanSecurityService,Counterpunch(27April2011),
http://www.counterpunch.org.

14
ofsome12to15officialsinOttawathat,TheNDStorturespeople,
thatswhattheydo,andifwedontwantourdetaineestortured,we
shouldnt give them to the NDS. [.] The response from the
CanadianExpeditionaryForceCommand(CEFCOM)notetakerwas
tostopwritingandputdownherpen.41
Asthiseloquentgesturesuggests,evenjuniorofficersinCEFCOMunderstood
thattheirseniorsthedesksoldierswithaspirationstojointhebigdogswantedto
keepotherpuppiesfromsniffingoutwhatpassesforintelligencegatheringinthetall
grass.Indeed,sinceJune2010wehaveknownthatCEFCOMintervenedvigorouslyin
thespringof2007toputastoptoColvinscirculationofinformationaboutthetortureof
detainees: a CEFCOM memo dated May 7, 2007 declared that his continued
employment in Kabul [] could become a liability to the government of Canadas
interestsifleftunchecked;andontwooccasionsseniorofficials,includingalieutenant
generalandanassociatedeputyminister,intervenedtocautionhim.42
Within days of Colvins November 2009 testimony to the effect that Prime
MinisterHarpersDefenceandForeignPolicyAdvisorhadcensoredmessagesfromthe
Kabulembassyaboutdetaineetorture,andColvinsexposureoftheCanadianmilitarys
obstructionofRedCrossandISAFattemptstomonitorprisonertransfers,areportinthe
TorontoStarrevealedhowdirectlythePrimeMinisterhadinvolvedhimselfintheissue
in2007.AccordingtoaformerseniorNATOpublicaffairsofficial,thedenialsoftorture
issuedbyNATOinKabulatatimewhenitwasprivatelyandgenerallyacknowledged
inourofficethatthechancesofgoodtreatmentatthehandsofAfghansecurityforces
werealmostzerowerescriptedbyHarperandhisofficeinOttawa:
IwastoldthiswasthetitanicissueforPrimeMinisterHarperandthat
everystatementthatwentoutneededtobeclearedbyhimpersonally
[].Thelines were,Wehavenoevidence ofcoercive treatment
41

Colvin,FurtherEvidenceofRichardColvintotheSpecialCommitteeonAfghanistan,
http://www.cbc.ca/news/pdf/furtherevidencespecialcommittee.pdf,p.2.
42
StevenChase,MilitarywanteddetaineewhistleblowerpulledfromAfghanistan,TheGlobeandMail
(14June2010,updated5October2010),http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/militarywanted
detaineewhistleblowerpulledfromafghanistan/article1604188/.

15
beingusedagainstdetaineeshandedovertotheAfghans.[.][I]twas
made clear to us that this was coming from the Prime Ministers
Office, which was running the public affairs aspect of Canadian
engagementinAfghanistanwitha6,000milescrewdriver.43
Thepatternthatemergesfrommainstreamnewsreportsisthusoneofhighlevel
complicity in torture, combined with attemptsorganized from the very top of the
Canadiangovernmenttofalsifythepublicrecord.
AccordingtolawprofessorAmirAttaran,whohasseenuncensoredversionsof
the documents that the Harper government has so strenuously resisted sharing with
Parliament,thepapertrailisthoroughlyincriminating.InMarch2010AttirantoldCBC
News:Ifthesedocumentswerereleased[infull],whattheywillshowisthatCanada
partnereddeliberatelywiththetorturersinAfghanistanfortheinterrogationofdetainees
[].Therewouldbeaquestionofrenditionandaquestionofwarcrimesonthepartof
certain Canadian officials. Thats whats in these documents, and thats why the
governmentiscoveringupashardasitcan.44

4.Conclusion
Theclearpatternofintentionalityrevealedinthewordsandactionsofsenior
Canadiangovernmentbureaucratsandseniormilitaryofficersisbothembarrassing(these
peopleactuallybelieve,despitecopiousevidencetothecontrary,thattortureproduces
realintelligence)45andalsoascandalousoffenseagainsttheruleoflaw.
43

MitchPotter,PMOissuedinstructionsondenyingabusein07,TheTorontoStar(22November
2009),http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/afghanmission/article/729157pmoissuedinstructionson
denyingabusein07.
44
CanadawantedAfghanprisonerstortured:lawyer,CBCNews(5March2010),
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/03/05/afghanattaran005.html.
45
Forsomeofthatevidence,seeEdwardPeters,Torture(Oxford:Blackwell,1985);ElaineScarry,The
BodyinPain(1985;rpt.NewYork:OxfordUniversityPress);AlfredW.McCoy,AQuestionofTorture
(NewYork:Metropolitan/OwlBooks,2006);andalsoMatthewAlexander,ImstilltorturedbywhatI
sawinIraq:Aninterrogatorspeaks,TheWashingtonPost(30November2008),
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/11/28/AR2008112802242.html?
hpid=opinionsbox1;andBenMacintyre,24isfictional.Soistheideathattortureworks,TheSunday

16
Morescandalousstillistheevidencethatthesepeoplewereactingondirectives
from Stephen Harperthat Harper knew perfectly well that the Afghan puppetstate
torturestheprisonershandedovertoitbytheCanadianForces,butnonethelesspermitted
thecontinuationofthissystem,andthatheactuallytookchargeoftheprogramoflying
aboutit.

Times(23April2009),
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/ben_macintyre/article6150151.ece.