Monday, January 18, 2010

Mandatory Minimum Sentences, War Crimes, and stephen harper

First of all, I've made a lot of hay about "the Rule of Law" with regards to stephen harper's war crimes in Afghanistan. I think I've also been careful to point out that I regard some crimes as worse than others, and that there's actually some leeway in law enforcement that's possible without smashing the rule of law to itty-bitty pieces.

For instance, smoking a joint, taking bribes and turning people over to be tortured, are all against the law.

The first crime in that sentence is a victimless crime and is the result of a stupid law. Taking bribes is serious, and tolerating it encourages systemic corruption. It degrades democracy. But the last action is despicable. It destroys lives. It is inexcusable. Any society that tolerates complicity in torture, that allows politicians to destroy people's lives, cannot lay claim to describe itself as moral, noble, or anything.

With lesser crimes I'm all for exercising discretion. Police use discretion all the time. They tell the teenager with the joint to throw it down the sewer and let them off with a warning. Judges have discretion. They can decide that a guilty person is genuinely remorseful, or that they do not constitute a threat to the general public, or that something was their first offence and that the individual is not likely to re-offend, and they can give lighter sentences to some people and not others.

stephen harper though, is an idiot. He believes that aping the failed so-called "law and order" policies of the USA is the way to deal with the Canadian crime wave that exists only within the heads of "conservative" idiots like himself. And so stephen harper wishes to take away judges' discretion and impose mandatory minimum sentences. (This will help congest our prisons, which will make it easier to argue that private prisons are needed to handle the overflow. As well, harsher "law and order" policies will make it easier to bully the poor and other victims and critics of his government's policies.)

Obviously, stephen harper and his government are guilty of war crimes. Unlike minor drug offenders though, stephen harper has some ability to withhold evidence and perhaps escape justice. We were getting close to exposing harper's criminality which is why the gutless fuck-head prorogued parliament. This chicanery has likely only saved him temporarily. It seems certain that he will be exposed and then we as a society are going to have to figure out what to do with him. Carelessly arresting people and callously turning them over to a government infamous for abusing human rights isn't something we can pretend never happened.

In this instance, the law must prevail. And we must decide on the mandatory minimum sentence harper (and company) will face. And harper, if he has any intellectual consistency, must submit to this mandatory minimum. And that will be that.


Patrick Ross said...

So, let's take a closer look at your assertions here, so we can reveal more fully the extent to which they're entirely faulty.

You write:

"smoking a joint, taking bribes and turning people over to be tortured, are all against the law."

All of these things are illegal. As it pertains to Stephen Harper, are any of them actually true?

Well, let's take a look at the middle statement, seeing as how this is clearly the allegation you want to raise here. You want to suggest that Stephen Harper "turned people over to be tortured".

"Turned people over to be tortured."

As in, turning people over for the express purpose that they will be tortured.

Do you have any evidence that would back up such a claim?

Patrick Ross said...


Evidence? No?

Didn't think so.

thwap said...


Sorry idiot. I wasn't paying attention to comments sections.

Here's the answer to your ignorant, stupid question: It is a war crime to not investigate torture allegations when you're responsible for the treatment of prisoners that you take.

Got it?

There's no way out for harper on this. Because harper continues to hand over our prisoners to the Afghan government in spite of all the credible warnings of prisoner mistreatment.

To answer your specific question, did harper consciously desire that those people be tortured? I don't think so. I just think he didn't care what happened to him.

Which is the whole attitude that's made this whole thing a debacle.

Patrick Ross said...

"It is a war crime to not investigate torture allegations when you're responsible for the treatment of prisoners that you take."

Then I'm sure you'll be relieved to hear that the Conservative government did in fact investigate these claims -- although they may have been slow to decide the claims were credible, due to Al Qaida and the Taliban's history of instructing their fighters to claim they were tortured even if they weren't -- and then negotiated a brand new prison transfer agreement that has since curtailed abuses of Afghan detainees.

You say that "there's no way for [Harper] to win on this", despite the fact that now Canadian forces are now monitoring detainees, halting transfers when necessary, and taking detainees back when they've been abused -- all thanks to the agreement that the Harper government signed with Afghanistan.

It's become fully evident that you have no intention of allowing the possibility of a Harper "victory" on this matter.

The problem is that it becomes extremely clear that your argument is razor-thin as soon as some "pesky facts" are introduced into the matter.

But, beyond that, let's get back to the matter at hand.

Your claim in this blogpost was that Harper had turned detainees over to be tortured.

As in turned detainees over for the express purpose of having them tortured.

Do you have any kind of evidence that this was the Harper government's intent? Because their actions on this file clearly contract that.

thwap said...

I've already answered you shit-head.

Patrick Ross said...

So you claim to have evidence that it was Stephen Harper's intention to have prisoners tortured?

Despite the fact that he had no part in negotiating the agreement that allowed that to happen?

What evidence would this be? Where is it? I haven't seen it.

thwap said...

I said that I did not think that harper consciously desired that these people be tortured. I said that he didn't care.

"Turned them over to be tortured" is describing in the past-tense what happened to them.

And at the end of the day, both the Liberals (stupidly) and the harpercons (insanely) handed people over to jailers about whom there were long-standing, credible fears that they practised torture systemically.

Kindly leave all further correspondence in the more recent post please.

Patrick Ross said...

If Harper didn't care that the Afghan detainees were being tortured, re-negotiating the prison transfer agreement is an awfully curious course of action, wouldn't you say?

Any rational person would.

So then, let's review: you admit that "turned them over to be tortured" isn't really a description of past events. "Turned them over after which they were tortured", sadly, still is.

thwap said...

I shan't be making any further replies to you in this comment section.

Patrick Ross said...

Sweet. I guess that means I pretty much just took ownership of this thread, doesn't it?

Listen, if you don't want to continue here -- and the reasons for that are fairly evident -- may I suggest that you close the thread?