Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The SAS takes prisoners after all

So, having denied for years that the SAS takes prisoners in Afghanistan, the government has now admitted that they do:

KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Defence: Has New Zealand’s SAS detained anyone during its operations or joint operations with other forces since being redeployed to Afghanistan in 2009?

Hon Dr WAYNE MAPP (Minister of Defence): On 30 January the New Zealand SAS detained a mid-level Taliban commander in response to a tasking by the International Security Assistance Force, because the Afghan authorities, including the crisis response unit, were not available at the time. That person was transferred to a United States facility at Bagram, and is now being held at a joint US-Afghan facility at Parwan. The detainee is being monitored by New Zealand officials in accordance with our responsibilities under international law. The last visit to the detainee was by New Zealand officials on 25 April. His principal complaint was that he was unhappy at being held by infidels, but had no other concerns.

So, despite having transferred prisoners to US torture in 2002, the SAS have done it again. And they've been sent to Bagram, the Afghan Guantanamo, where prisoners have been tortured and even murdered. The good news is that this time, there is proper monitoring. But given the US's past treatment of prisoners, I wouldn't consider them suitable custodians for a dog, let alone a human being.

Meanwhile, this again calls the Jerry Mateparae's testimony to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee into question. In 2010, he told them [PDF] that

the SAS has no authority to exercise control over detainees, even when its personnel are present at the arrest, as the detainees are subject to Afghan law. The SAS’s role is to provide support and training for the Afghan authorities.
This is clearly inconsistent with Mapp's answer yesterday. Either something changed, or Mataparae lied to Parliament. We deserve to know which is the case.