Monday, December 14, 2009

peter worthington ~defending torture, disparaging diplomats ~ its just his way

Posted by Christian  |  at  14.12.09

Perhaps he is still reeling over the whole Conrad Black affair.

Whatever the reason may be, Mr.Worthington has put out a piece rivaling Christie Blatchford's screed {which has been debunked and corrected} in an attempt at discrediting Richard Colvin. But while they both dismiss anything Colvin had to say as irrelevant, Worthington goes completely off the deep end by suggesting that as long as Canadian soldiers "don't seriously abuse prisoners -- neither physically nor mentally", whatever happens to them after they are turned over is none of our concern because, "It's not our country".

His piece is full of holes, contradictions and stephen harper's talking points.
The irony is, although Worthington's headline reads, Colvin's tale not full Afghanistan story, it is he who then proceeds with half truths and what I contend are, intentional omissions.

Here is a breakdown.
That 95 former ambassadors have rallied to defend diplomat Richard Colvin who warned that Afghan prisoners turned over to Afghan authorities by Canadian soldiers were tortured, is interesting, even embarrassing to the federal government. But also irrelevant.

What these ambassadors know about Afghanistan and its customs verges on zilch.
Quite an assumption on Worthington's part. What clue does he have with regards to what these former ambassadors understand about Afghan culture? Even if one agrees with that statement, it does not undermine the crux of that letter, which was that the harper government was using personal attacks on a senior diplomat in order to discredit him. The letter has nothing to do with understanding Afghan culture or torture. The point of the letter was the consequences stephen harper's smear job would have on future officers coming forward when they see fit.
They now become weapons for the opposition to attack the government, claiming cover-up, deceit, intimidation, lying and whatever invective comes to mind. Basic is the demand that Defence Minister Peter MacKay be fired for saying there's no evidence prisoners turned over were tortured.
The fact is, Peter, the harper government's actions are directly responsible for creating the situation where others could legitimately claim cover-up, deceit and intimidation. Not the opposition parties, nor the ambassadors. From providing heavily redacted documents which are about as useful as harper's word, to discouraging witnesses from co-operating, to being shown the government's denials have been proven false, the charges against the government are warranted.
Any dispassionate assessment of Colvin's reports and testimony would likely conclude he honestly believes what he was told.

And "told" is the operative word. He didn't witness any torture or abuse, but was "told" by victims they were tortured. Can anyone recall a single Taliban or al-Qaida prisoner who hasn't claimed he was tortured?

Scowl at a Taliban detainee and it's interpreted as torture.
Of course, in the World according to Worthington, anybody who knows anything about Afghan culture such as Mr.Colvin, is aware of the rampant torture, but only if they happen to witness it with their own eyes, otherwise, it simply doesn't occur. Or something.

In yet another of Worthington's fallacies, he adopts stephen harper's right wing talking points. By labeling all the detainees as "the Taliban", the goal is to remove any legitimate criticism of human rights abuses. They set up a narrative in which they can accuse those who deplore torture as sympathizing with the enemy. As stephen harper has done on more than one occasion.
"I can understand the passion that the Leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for the Taliban prisoners," Harper told the Commons on March 21, 2007.
The facts are there was little evidence that many of the detainees were linked to the Taliban at all, which bolsters Colvin's testimony that many of the Afghans detained by Canadian troops were innocent farmers, peasants or people in the "wrong place at the wrong time."

Worthington repeats Blatchford's claim that Mr.Colvin simply took complaints and hardly went out in the field.
There's little evidence Colvin ventured much beyond the wire with troops, or has ever been exposed to conditions in the field. He did his job as he saw it, but he's more a recipient of complaints than an investigator for truth.
That's also incorrect. Blatchford's piece has been updated with new information.
Mr. Colvin made several trips, not one, outside the military base in Kandahar. Incorrect information appeared in a column Nov. 28.
Now we arrive to the heart of the matter. Pistol~whip~ Pete sees nothing wrong with the Canadian military handing over detainees to be tortured at the hands of others. Heck, we can even abuse them ourselves, just not too much.
On their part, the generals tend to form a unified front in defence of themselves and soldiers. Our top soldier, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, says all this happened before he was in command, but other generals clearly weren't overly concerned about the fate of prisoners turned over to the Afghans. Nor should they have been. It's not our country.

Generals and combat officers should concern themselves that our soldiers don't seriously abuse prisoners -- neither physically nor mentally.
A majority of Canadians disagree with you, Peter. 7O% of them, in fact.
Moreover, fully 70 per cent said it's unacceptable that Canadian forces would hand over prisoners if it's likely they'll be tortured. No less than 60 per cent in any region and even a majority of Conservative supporters subscribed to this view.
Worthington wraps up by attacking the opposition parties, dismissing the need for an inquiry, and accusing the former ambassadors of doctoring reports to please their masters.

And none of that shields the harper government from scrutiny . Talk about having a sense of entitlement!


  1. "What these ambassadors know about Afghanistan and its customs verges on zilch."

    Hee hee! Fortunately, we have Mr. Worthington to fill in the blanks on this important subject. You see, torturing prisoners that Canadians captured and turned over to them is a time-honoured custom in Afghanistan that goes back before our country even existed! We have to respect it, or nation-building wouldn't be worth doing!

    I love it when conservative hacks pretend to play cultural relativist.

  2. Too true, David. They are culture warriors.


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