Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Right to Secrecy and Trust Has Expired

Via HarperBizarro, Don Martin on today's expected announcement about the rights of Parliament to see detainee documents from the Afghanistan conflict:

The problem with this government is how it's become secrecy personifi ed -- witness the backlog of information access requests, it's document-starvation of the Military Police Complaints Commission and new revelations over the PMO's intensified information control strategy. It has given every sign it values protecting its political butt over legitimate areas of national security.

Yet the government correctly argues it is the designated guardian of security information that's too sensitive to be distributed to mere MPs under a "confi-dential" stamp.

Um, sorry, no.

No. NO. A thousand times NO!!!

We went into Afghanistan in 2001. It is now 2010. NATO easily destroyed the Taliban government's hold on Afghanistan. It then installed a puppet-government under Hamid Karzai and various "Northern Alliance" warlords.

NATO and the Karzai government have had almost NINE YEARS to bring stability and reconstruction to Afghanistan. They have failed. The city of Kandahar, once a secure base from which NATO (with mostly Canadian troops) tried to secure the rest of the province. Today we read that the Taliban have infiltrated the entire city and it will be a struggle to keep it:

The rumours had been circulating for weeks: Taliban insurgents were planning to attack the sprawling United Nations compound in Shar-i-nau, a relatively quiet, relatively wealthy neighbourhood in Kandahar city.

On Sunday morning, residents awoke to discover their streets scattered with “night letters.” The warnings, written on plain white paper, urged local residents to take cover and foreigners to flee.

This is only partially the fault of the Taliban insurgency. Obviously, it is difficult to build roads, schools, irrigation networks, and a functioning economy, when there are armed men planting bombs, murdering teachers, shooting at foreign aid workers and the country's police. But here's the thing; I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think that Afghanistan is a different society from Canada, the United States, or the other NATO countries, but having said that, I don't believe that the Taliban was all that popular among Afghans.* It should not have been all that difficult to isolate them and render them irrelevant. The problem though, is that NATO, in all it's stupidity, imposed a government on the Afghans comprised of the same brutal gangsters who internecine warfare (with all the attendant rape and pillage) had alienated the population and allowed the Taliban (fanatically devout and relatively incorruptible) to rise in the first place! Furthermore, instead of leaning on the gangsters we installed into power, NATO (comprised of the world's only super-power and several former great powers) allowed them to rule over their provinces like they were their own personal fiefdoms. And, in a country where ethnicity and tribal allegiances are supposedly incredibly important, NATO allowed the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar Province (primarily Pashtun) to be plundered and exploited by non-Pashtun warlords. It was inevitable that such a situation would produce an insurgency. And it is this insurgency, centered around the the detestable, misogynist Taliban, but given its continued strength from the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been abused by Karzai and his warlords, as well as by cowardly NATO air-strikes, that Canadian soldiers are killing and dying for. These Afghan fighters, responding as any human being would to tyranny, brutality, dishonour and exploitation, are the so-called "moderate Taliban" that the USA is now supposedly reaching out to.

Canadian soldiers are fighting insurgents who may not even sympathize much with the Taliban, but who are motivated by their resistance to a corrupt, brutal, thieving, rapist warlord-gangster government, and they are capturing some of these rebels and turning them over to a government that practices torture as policy. More than this, paranoid about civilian allies who might be helping the insurgency, the Canadian Forces are arresting innocent farmers and turning them over to the rapists and torturers.

Now, it was the Liberals, cocooned in their ignorance and delusion about what really motivates themselves and the US government, that stupidly took us into Afghanistan. It was under the Liberals that prisoners were first transferred to the US military (which teaches torture to Latin American officers) and did so until scandals of torture and murder at US-run facilities like Abu Ghraib and Bagram compelled them to seek an alternative. Carelessly, in the midst of an election, the Liberals allowed the cowardly stoop, General Rick Hillier, to negotiate an imbecilic prisoner transfer with the torturing government of Afghanistan. The Liberals lost power soon after the agreement was signed, and it became the harpercon government's responsibility to ensure the humane treatment of our prisoners.

The harpercon government took pride in not giving a flying-fuck about the treatment of our prisoners and so finds itself today, cravenly hiding from Parliament, asking for the powers of a despotic government, in order to avoid going to prison for war crimes.

And now, Don Martin presumes to lecture us that turning over information about PRISONER TRANSFERS from THREE YEARS AGO somehow will endanger Canadian troops today? Somehow, the movements of our troops one, two, or three years ago could be leaked by Parliamentarians and this would endanger national security?

No. Sorry, no. This is about Canada being a nation that tortures, or a nation that doesn't torture. This is about a government that routinely lies, obstructs, and cynically leaks documents supposedly vital to national security. In the first place, THERE IS NO VALID "NATIONAL SECURITY" ARGUMENT, and secondly, this government has lost the right to invoke "national security" and compel our trust that it is acting in our best interests and is defending our values in Afghanistan (or anywhere else for that matter).

*(Evidence that Afghanistan is a different country from Canada? There were Afghan women stoning other Afghan women, as both sides clashed over a law - signed by President Karzai - that said that Afghan Shiite wives were obliged to provide sexual favours for their husbands. Karzai had amended this bit of garbage by allowing wives the right to withhold these favours but giving husbands the right to withhold food. More evidence: The PBS documentary "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan" details the practice of young boys - generally poor - being forced to dance for wealthy and powerful men and later rented out by them to other men for sex. The practice was banned by the peasant-based Taliban but is making a resurgence under the elitist, warlord-based Karzai government. These are the people we are allied with and these are the people we are fighting. This is the society our nitwit leaders willingly chose to invade and "reform." It's such a sick fucking travesty.)


no_blah_blah_blah said...

Harper just lost the battle against Parliamentary supremacy. Still, I'm sure that the Conservatives will come up with something else over the next two weeks when they are supposed to work out a "compromise" with the opposition. I predict that all the documents will be dipped in thick gooey black ink beforehand.

I agree that "national security" is a cop-out argument, even regarding information relevant to the present. I'm sure that opposition MPs will be able to keep sensitive information confidential. In my opinion, the implicit insinuation that only MPs of the governing party can keep a secret is just as bad (or even worse) than any verbal insult hurled across the floor of the House.

thwap said...

No blah,

Not just government MPs! Retired generals, hack journalists, government lawyers, mid-level DFAIT administrators and etc., etc., can also see these documents willy-nilly, while harper attempts to take swipes out of democratic accountability.

The extent of their cynicism and hypocrisy is truly revolting.