Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eric Margolis on Afghanistan's Torturers

Eric Margolis isn't my cup of tea. There's a reason why he's carried by fecal-brained Toronto Sun. He was a strident anti-communist and was quick to condemn the Soviet Union or People's Republic of China for their violations of human rights, but also seemed to give the United States the benefit of the doubt in its "Cold War" foreign policies. He appears, however, to be a man of principle. The lies, delusions, and monstrosities of the "War on Terror" are so obvious that Margolis has emerged as a harsh critic of US (and Canadian) actions. For this, he has now been completely mis-characterized by the half-wits on the right-wing, such as the "Small Dead Brain Cells" crowd who believe he is now an "anti-American" socialist.

In the essay: "Afghan scandal sullies Canada" I believe that Margolis has sloppily conflated the anti-Soviet Mujaheddin with the Soviet puppet allies they were fighting against.

By 1995, the anti-Communist Pashtun religious movement, the Taliban, backed by Pakistan and the Gulf Arabs, had driven the Communists from most of Afghanistan. The Afghan Communists retreated to the far north, and became part of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks, many of whom collaborated with the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, dominated the Alliance.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, using Russian-armed Northern Alliance soldiers to overthrow the Taliban, and install Hamid Karzai as figurehead president. Real power in Kabul was held by the Northern Alliance.

However, Margolis makes a specific accusation against one of the Northern Alliance warlords who is now a pillar of our puppet Karzai government in Kabul.

The Soviet intelligence service, KGB, created the Afghan Communist secret police agency, known as KhAD. Its mission was to liquidate or terrorize all suspected or real anti-Communists and opponents of Soviet occupation. Most prisoners arrested by KhAD were subjected to frightful, sadistic torture, particularly at Kabul's dreaded Pul-e-Charkhi Prison.

Prisoners were buried alive by bulldozers. Others were electrocuted, beaten to death, castrated and blinded.

Some 27,000-30,000 political prisoners were killed at Pul-e-Charkhi by KhAD.

Torture centres also existed in all other major cities.
Two of its strongest figures were pro-Soviet Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum, and Tajik general Mohammed Fahim -- KhAD's former chief. Both have close links to Russian intelligence.

After 30 years of civil war, the minority Tajiks and Uzbeks had become blood enemies of the Pashtuns, Afghanistan's majority. Most Taliban are Pashtun.

Fahim and the Tajik-Uzbek-Communist Northern Alliance took over the revived secret police, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the prison system. In short order, the KhAD's old torturers were back in business.

Fahim does appear to have been the former chief-torturer of the pro-Soviet regime. Go read the rest of the editorial.

At the end of the day, if Margolis and I were to sit down and talk about the best form of organization for human societies that protected human rights and dignity, we'd soon come to a disagreement. But as I said above, I think he's a genuine man of principle. In trying to find the online version of that previous editorial (which I'd read in an abandoned copy of the Sun at Coffee-Time Donuts!) I also found this editorial: "Spitting on International Law" about the dehumanizing nature of torture. It's something that all of Canada's loud n' proud torture apologists should read. Or have read to them.

Prisoners taken in the dead of night to Lubyanka were systematically beaten for days with rubber hoses and clubs. There were special cold rooms were prisoners could be frozen to near death. Sleep deprivation was a favorite and most effective Cheka technique. So was near-drowning in water fouled with urine and feces.

I recall these past horrors because of what this column has long called the gradual `Sovietization’ of the United States. This shameful week, it became clear Canada is also afflicted.


Canada has always seemed to me been a haven of moderation, decency, and rule of law that managed to stay aloof from the world’s travails. That is, until the Maher Arar affair shockingly showed it could also quickly fall into police state behavior.

Arar’s despicable treatment by Canada and the US was the result of a US witch hunt, plus anti-Muslim racism, stupidity, bureaucratic cowardice and incompetence. Disturbingly, before becoming prime minister, conservative leader Stephen Harper actually branded Arar a terrorist, and backed his arrest and imprisonment.


Canada must demand a thorough US investigation, apology, and guarantee Canadians will never again become victims of the state-run criminal activity that afflicted Maher Arar. Canada’s PM Harper should advise his new best friends in Washington that Canada is not a banana republic.

Officials directly involved in the most sordid, disgraceful case in Canada’s modern history, must face justice. They are as much guilty as the torturers who beat Maher Arar mercilessly for ten months. The same applies to American officials who sent an innocent man to be nearly beaten to death and virtually buried alive in a “grave” cell measuring six feet by three.

Amen. Margolis wrote that in 2006. Before it was widely known that Canada had directly had three of its own citizens pointed out (falsely) to Syria's "intelligence" agency as terrorist suspects and allowed them to have their way with them. More than that, our "intelligence" officers sent questions to the Syrians, you know, while they were torturing them. Three Canadian citizens, Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin, and Ahmad Abou El-Maati were BETRAYED by their own government. Their human rights were swept aside with casual bureaucratic ease by mouth-breathing cretins struggling to come up with justification for their bullshit careers. And now this smirking disregard for international law and Canada's reputation as a country that doesn't torture.

I'm not going to say that Canada was a decent nation before all of this. Our continued abuse of the First Nations is too systemic and sustained for that. But good people struggled long and hard to try to make it a decent country. And our political leaders always felt compelled to continue with the pretence that our country represented the leading values of democracy and human rights. These harpercon lunatics and scumbags are deliberately spitting on this reputation. They seek to create Canada in a different image. An ugly, stupid and evil ideal. They have gone too far. They are caught dead to rights and they are going to fail.


opit said...

I suspect Margolis typifies what once was the 'ethical warrior', a chivalrous notion as dead as bushido in today's slaughters : incapable of seeing beneath the conditioning and media spin that justifies 'his side' regardless of whatever atrocities it perpetrates, nevertheless he is honest within those limitations. By that I mean that 'collateral damage' being minimized is always his ethical foundation...something lost in civilian infrastructure destruction as a primary goal these days. Torture also is despicable : a delight of perverts who scarce deserve to exist, let alone be allowed to ply their trade.

thwap said...

I'd give him more credit than that. Some people, when faced with the crimes of Stalinism, while already captured by the propaganda of their own society, decided that liberal democracy was really humanity's best hope.

He's wrong-headed, but it's telling to the system when it loses someone like that, and for that he's quite important.