Sunday, September 20, 2009

what is steve harper's role in covering up the sexual abuse of Afghan boys? ~ Sex abuse and silence exposed

Posted by Christian  |  at  20.9.09

A week ago I blogged about a report which focused on the harper government's control over certain media matters in Afghanistan. From granting or denying reporters interviews-to providing government approved talking points to the military, the harper government is deeply involved with respect to what will be reported. And military brass seem to have no objections with their arrangement. In fact the director of public affairs operations with the Defence Department, navy Capt. Dave Scanlon, argues:
"It really is a whole of government approach, with CIDA, Foreign Affairs, National Defence and Public Safety," he says. "Right at the strategic level, you have very, very good co-ordination on communications amongst the four lead departments."

"It's part of my job to tell the Canadian Forces story, but to do that as part of a whole of government context. It has to be done with the political oversight of the government of the day."
So it's been established that the military and the government of the day collaborate to control the message. That being the case, is it unreasonable to assume the harper government was readily aware that sexual abuse of young boys at the hands of Afghan security forces stationed on a Canadian base was taking place?

A story published yesterday entitled, Sex abuse and silence exposed, by David Pugliese, certainly begs the question. While Pugliese exposes the military's role in the cover-up, I find it difficult to believe harper, or at the very least those who report to him, were ignorant of such a volatile situation.

In David's piece, his opening paragraph highlights the fact that upon learning of the abuse allegations, the military's main concern was the story being reported in the media.
Army staff and National Defence headquarters officials were told in 2007 that young boys had allegedly been sexually abused by Afghan security forces at a Canadian base in Afghanistan, but the concern at the time was that the incident might be reported in the news media, according to military records obtained by the Citizen.
But even more disgraceful, is news that some military police were told by commanders to ignore incidents in which Afghan forces were having sex with children because, and get this, since it is practised by some Afghans, Canadian Forces should not get involved in what should be seen as a “cultural” issue. A "cultural" issue?! We're not talking about betting on dog fights or praying at certain times of the day. Can we not draw the line at letting children get raped with our consent?

More from David's must read article.

And after reading it, I'd like to see The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, investigated. Earlier this year they released a report concluding the allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded and that such incidents were never reported to Canadian military commanders. That is false.
In addition, it appears senior Canadian commanders were also concerned about the abuse. In a June 13, 2008, letter to army commander Leslie, the office of Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier asked that an investigation be started into the sexual assault allegations. “Furthermore, initial queries suggest there appeared to be some concern of the part of the Roto 2 BG chain of command with respect to certain off-duty activities related to the same incidents later raised to the reporter,” the letter noted.

The records also indicate the allegations sparked much debate inside the military on what to acknowledge in public. The first response was to deny anything ever took place.
And here come the talking points.
However, a series of “talking points” were produced on June 17, 2008, in which it was acknowledged in regard to “Afghan male sexual abuse of underage males” that “Soldiers are generally aware of this practice taking place in Afghanistan; They know that abuse, let alone of minors is wrong by our standards; They will report this activity to the appropriate authorities.”
Clearly, the CFNIS botched the investigation. Despite eyewitness reports, meetings, discussions and strategy sessions on how to deal with this matter, the investigators concluded the allegations were 'unfounded'? Are they simply following orders from prime minister harper? His ministers? Evidently, letting steve have control over a military rife with yes men is devastating for those poor kids. And it's a shame for our Country.


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