Sunday, March 07, 2010

Attaran Saw Documents That Show We Wanted Prisoners Tortured

Amir Attaran, a law professor, has seen documents that confirm that Canadian officials continued to hand over detainees to Afghan authorites to be knowingly tortured for the intended purpose to gather intelligence.

Not only is the fact that Canandian officials knew about detainees being tortured and yet continued to hand them over to Afghan authorities a troubling revelation, but even more heinous is the fact that our government condoned this practice of torture in the hopes of gathering information.

In correspondence I received from Mr. Attaran today he states that he has seen documents through the Access to Information Act that prove Canadian officials intended detainees to be tortured in order to obtain information. He is restricted however to release that information because of its possible threat to national security.

Recently the CBC broke the story on the professors revelation, the article can be found here and the corresponding videos here and here.

For sometime Amir Attaran has kept an eye on events related to the Afghan detainee abuse scandal. After reading government documents that illustrated that Canadians were aware of detainees being tortured, Mr. Attaran developed an hypothesis of why the Canadian government continued handing over detainees.

Mr. Attaran assumed that in 2007 officials had maintained the policy of handing over detainees with the knowledge that they would be tortured in order for the government to obtain information. Recently the professor has seen certain documents that confirm that hypothesis.

A portion of Mr. Attaran's correspondence is below:

I have for years had the hypothesis that the transfers are related to information-gathering. All things considered the hypothesis explains a lot, such as why we resumed transferring detainees after previous confirmations of torture, such as the one on Nov 5, 2007 when Canadian officials found a detainee they had transferred injured in Afghan custody, and also found the whips (braided electrical wire and hose) used by his jailors—in short, the tortured person and the torture implements both. That was the clearest possible warning, but we’ve gone on transferring detainees since. Why?

That said, rather recently I was permitted access to information which confirms that the hypothesis is correct. But at this moment I can't tell you what information, and since I am a law professor, you can pretty easily work out why I'm unable to say.
For anyone questioning Amir Attaran's credibility, the blog Canada Votes, or Not has posted another reply from the law professor.

Update: In response to commentators suggesting Mr. Attaran has no proof or is lying, I must point out that while he has put his reputation on the line, the commentators have not. Where as they have nothing to lose but some reputation as a blogger, he has his to lose as a respected academic and writer.

For Conservatives who would prefer to see the evidence before believing Mr. Attaran, that is not a fault of the professor's, but our own government's. It is interesting to note, that if Mr. Attaran is lying or indeed has no proof, one must ask where is any government official pointing that out?


wilson said...

Is this about CSIS?

CanadianSense said...

Can you provide actual proof or his statement like your is just more speculation? said...

CanadianSense I can point you to the excerpt of the email I received from the law professor as actual proof on my part. As for Attaran's claim, I would put more credibility on his as he is putting his reputation on the line as a professor than on any who is suggesting he is lying.

By the way, do you know of anyone, say in the government who has suggested Mr. Attaran is lying? I would think if he was in fact lying some official would be more than willing to point that.

Jerry Prager said...

An email reply from Amir Attaran
Hi Jerry,
There’s no secret. I held research and teaching positions at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Govt earlier this decade, where the thrust of my work was global health policy. Part of the time I was based in the Centre for International Development, where the director was Jeff Sachs. Later I was in the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy, where the director was Michael Ignatieff. From Harvard, I went for briefer stints teaching at Yale, and researching at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (also called Chatham House) in London.

During the above period, I was being attacked by the anti-globalization left wing on specious accusations that my salary at Harvard was covertly financed by big pharma. Michael was of help in dispelling those false allegations. So it is both comical and ironic now to be attacked from the Tory right, with the nonsense that I am a “puppet” (your word) for Ignatieff.

The better explanation is that, having drawn bullets from both the left and the right at various times, I am independent-minded and believe in the facts as my research leads me to them. Currently, the facts are that officials in Canada’s government have knowingly partnered our country with torturers in Afghanistan. Others may grumble about it, but the evidence is overwhelming.
Amir said...

Yes Jerry I believe I included a link to that on the post. Thank you.

Jerry Prager said...

Just wanted you to have the message itself, it tends to silence a lot of nonsense.

CanadianSense said...


as a failed humourist apparently my suggestion a romantic dinner is not an attack on his sexuality.

I was listing examples of multiple scenarios of information exchanges that are NOT deemed "proof" simply because you imply them to be. (Bad joke apparently)

For instance you may have held a secret meeting in a church basement (religious attack?) or just lame humour.

You could have held a meeting underwater as well, we don't consider the meeting or the method important.

Amir, Colvin and several Liberals suggest wrong doing and keep repeating it.

Please provide the evidence in the courts, parliament.

Until you supply the evidence, have your day in court, WIN the court case, you simply have a story.

A story that has not been proven but is damaging to our reputation on global stage. said...

Jerry, thanks, that's nice of you.

Canadian Sense, humour is subjective, and not to degrade any attempts at it, I prefer the self-deprecating kind because frankly I'm an asshole and I deserve it.

But as for this story I think though your motives are honourable, the overall force of your point is invalid.

Not only because it rests on some catch-22 nexus, but because you seem to not value the word of a professor who swears there is evidence.

I will restate perhaps more clearly why Attaran should be taken seriously, and that is bluntly his words can be verified true or false by the documents. This is not an opinion or some fantasy, there is real world proof that can say he is telling the turth or not.

Because of this and the fact the government has not said Attaran is lying, I believe any reasonable person would conclude Attaran is most likely telling the truth.

Attaran could be wrong, but then he has everything to lose by it, which only further shows its unlikely.

Jerry Prager said...

whatever sense you're making it isn't Canadian, more like non, we don't need a day in court with an ex judge, we have a parliament, of which you people are in contempt. Both Attaran and Ignatieff are international players in the human rights movement. We know who is lying, the same person who lied about democratic reform, senate reform, who lied about transparency, fixed date elections etc, etc, etc. The con games are over.

CanadianSense said...

Your logic dictates I must attack, your claims or they are valid.

No, it does not work that way.

Reminds me now how many in the AGW camps have asked us to prove their story false.

You, Amir, Colvin, Charlie Brown must provide proof in a court and win the CASE.

You don't get to pass and convict based on the court of public opinion.

I HAVE ZERO problem with your team going to court with your evidence and making your case for your story.

I have simply explained many of us are unhappy about the repeated stories without substance.

Today we have a story that is repeated and believed by your camps as the Gospel truth.

For many of us, Phil Jone, Michael Man, Pachy, Amir academic background hold ZERO weight.

Provide the data, your proof to your story of Global Warming or torture, fat free Angus steaks.

Until you provide the proof and it is reviewed, scutinized, your story remains one.

CanadianSense said...

Sorry Jerry,

you don't get to make up the rules of what is valid information.

Let's get those documents you claim to have as proof before parties NOT in your CAMP for scrutiny.

Take your story to court and win the case.

Jerry Prager said...

The highest court in the land is Parliament.

CanadianSense said...

The photo is of JT2 in 2002. Martin panicked with stories in Iraq and suspended handing over taliban to the US.

Again I welcome Amir,Jerry, Dean, Scott to testify and present your evidence and case in a court.

The opposition parties are in the majority and may play games and find contempt, vote non-confidence.

Just bring it, do something all this talk is really pathetic.

I have ZERO difficulty with the outcome and voters will pass judgement for the actions of those on the Hill.

After the latest stunt of Ignatieff order 10 Liberals NOT to show to vote down this gov't you keep talking like they have any credibility/integrity.

If I was NDP/Bloc/Green I would be airing TV ads Liberals are refusing to get back to work.

Gayle said...

Very brave demanding "proof" when the government is refusing to produce that proof.

There is, however, evidence. That evidence is the statement from Attaran that he saw the documents.

Michael said...

There is, however, evidence. That evidence is the statement from Attaran that he saw the documents.

There is, however, evidence. That evidence is the statement from Rumplestiltskin that he saw unicorns.

Because he SAID so..........

CanadianSense said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CanadianSense said...

Agreed, that is why I have pointed out to Scott and all those who have labelled the opinion of Amir as a FACT or evidence before a court has made any ruling.

Amir and friends of the Liberal party are entitled to their opinion, they just need to go to court, win the case, win an election.

Until we have real action instead of stunts the government have no responsible opposition. said...

Michael and Canadian Sense my dear intellectuals, let an idiot like me try to point out something to two people who of course look at every angle.

Michael uses a wonderful thought experiment sarcastically suggesting if we beleive Attaran we should beleive Rumplestiltskin that he saw unicorns.

Now I wouldn't dare point out the errors in Michaels example, such as unicorns are known to not exist where Amir's documents can be seen in a few seconds to confirm his story, but I will point out that Attaran has put his reputation on the line. He has something to lose if he is telling a lie.

So what does this mean? It means there is no 100% way of knowing until we all see the documents (CanadianSenses idea of going to court won't do the job, how are we to take the word of a few judges named Rumplestiltskin?). BUT, and here's a BIG BUT, we can know that since here is an expert with a lot to lose, there is a HIGH LIKELIHOOD Attaran is telling the truth.

So if Michael and CanadianSense and all who come after are betting people, consider a wager. I will bet money that Attaran is telling the truth, I dare say with certainty, those who partisanly disagree will not.

CanadianSense said...

I am not suggesting a single judge, or a few are six are MORE fit to judge what is the truth.

It is our system, outside political bias to refer to our legal system to review such matters.

If the majority of MP want to change the existing laws and make themselves above the laws on the books, please have them immediately begin the process.

The majority of MP's are FREE to demand, not show up for work as they deem.

We voters will cast our ballots accordingly. I have no problem with the outcome at the ballot box. Liberals may one day form a government again. I am a big FAN of actual votes off the Hill.

Leaving democracy to the 308 MP's, not so much.

sanwin said...

Liberal supporter, eh ?

Jerry Prager said...

Parliament is the highest court, not the Supreme Court in these matters, however, as noted, Iggy has chosen to play a more cautious game, than pushing comes to shoves on that, so Attaran's default position for MP response would seem to be to have the Supreme Court confirm the supremacy of parliament under the constitution, and if Iggy doesn't do that, I can only assume, that given his stature in international rights circles, he may be waiting for an investigation coming down the pipe from the international court. And Canada, unlike America, is a signatory to the international court.
Sanwin: I myself voted Green, but tend to support liberals over conservatives because conservatives always betray the underclasses, while liberals only sometimes do. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was a great gift to commoners.

CanadianSense said...


Parliament is filled with 308 Canadians who have a job at our discretion.

Judges in the courts are appointed by the winners in our democracy.

You may not like the result of the role of the Courts and you may find a majority of MP's who believe they are above the Laws passed in Parliament and signed into LAW by Royal Assent.

I have NO problem is testing your theory in having 155 MP demand we violate the Laws as you suggest they are above them.

Change the laws, ignore them but do not expect the government or the employees who don't share the views of your friends to roll over.

Jerry Prager said...

Sanwin Since I am not in a position to force the issue, it's all moot.
I know Stephen Harper is a fundamentalist Christian, and than those Churches think Islam is the enemny, I know Mr. Harper wanted to join George W Bush and Dick Cheney in proving that Canada was part of their crusade against Islam, I know they went too far, I know it will be proven.