Thursday, February 17, 2011

Memo to Anonymous Operations

To: Anonymous Operations

From: Neil Kitson

Re: Access to Information Act Request A-2006-01106

Dear Anonymous,

Some insane time ago, Canadians ended up fighting in Afghanistan as part of the War on Terror. During that time, Canadian troops took prisoners. The legal basis for taking prisoners, and the legal basis for transferring them to other jurisdictions, is not clear, at least not to me. This occurred to me when I wrote a little memo on the subject to Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff.

Subsequently, I decided to ask the Department of National Defence those very questions:

The rest....followed.... This entire blog exists to document that request.

My purpose was to seek confirmation that Canadian Forces, acting in the name of all Canadian citizens, had observed their human rights obligations defined by the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and all subsequent international treaties signed by Canada, and confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada as binding on Canadian citizens [2008 SCC 28]. That would include the UN Secretary General’s Bulletin of August 12, 1999 (exactly 50 years after the Geneva Conventions – not a coincidence) that the Third Geneva Convention applied to the actions of UN forces in the field, whether peacekeeping or peace-enforcing.

Over four years later, having exhausted the provisions of the Access to Information Act, I’m still waiting for information, and turning to you for help. I’m not the only one. The entire House of Commons is waiting for information from the Government of Canada on Afghan “detainees”: an opaque procedure requiring at least a year with no obvious result.

I feel that I – among many others – am being jerked around. The document I want, which I had to go to Federal Court to know even existed, is the “CAMPAIGN AGAINST TERRORISM DETAINEE TRANSFER LOG”, meticulously kept by the Department of National Defence from 2002 on, and available in redacted form on Amir Attaran’s website, and completely redacted from April 2006 onwards.

I want this fucking document, and I want it unredacted. I am entitled to it by provision of the Access to Information Act, Section 2.

"2. (1) The purpose of this Act is to extend the present laws of Canada to provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution in accordance with the principles that government information should be available to the public, that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government."

I explicitly do not want any other document, particularly any that might compromise the safety of Canadian soldiers anywhere. I do not want, for example, the address, floor plan, and phone number for the Canadian Ambassador’s Residence in Kabul. Nor do I want the arrivals and departure information for Canadian Forces flights at Kandahar Airfield, or for that matter, the opening and closing hours for Tim Horton’s at KAF.

I want one, single, unredacted document that tells the truth.

Thanks for any assistance.