This post is part of the series Why Government?
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People are still concerned about whether or not Canadian soldiers have handed prisoners over to the Afghan government to be tortured. There are a number of documents that describe what Canadians have done and the government is refusing to let everyone read them. This is a legitimate concern. I have no new facts on the case. What I do have is a few suggestions and some help understanding what kind of problem this might be.
First, what are the government’s concerns. The government is concerned about national security. It is also concerned about not attacking our allies or our military. National security is concern that terrorists in Afghanistan might use the information in these documents to avoid capture, break people free of jails or harm citizens. It is also the concern that Afghan police and military might be targeted if their names are mentioned in the reports. Finally, one might be concerned that various sources might be mentioned in reports and one must always protect your sources. These concerns about national security, therefore, are legitimate. The concerns about not attacking our allies or military are also just. If the accusations are false, then one should not accuse others. You need evidence first.
Second, lets take a look at the concerns of the opposition party. Torture is always morally wrong. Helping someone do wrong, or merely ignoring them in their pursuit of wrongdoing is also always morally wrong. Therefore, it does not matter if Canadian soldiers are not torturing anyone. If these same soldiers are giving them to others to be tortured, they are still in the wrong. The opposition party is of the opinion that this has occurred. I am not sure of the evidence they have, but if they do then their concerns are just.
Now that we have seen both sides of the argument we can come to a conclusion. The opposition party needs to see the documents in order to be convinced that nothing wrong is going on. The government needs to keep national security. The best solution assuming everything is as described is that both people get what they want. The opposition party can appoint a person they trust that the government believes is also trustworthy. That person will look at the documents with others to determine if any wrongdoing was happening in Afghanistan. If nothing wrong was happening, then the opposition party needs to publicly admit that they were wrong. If something wrong was happening, then the government needs to admit that they were in the wrong, punish those who were doing wrong and ensure that it does not happen again.
By paying careful attention to both sides of an argument we can resolve the issue in a way that should be acceptable to both parties. The only way that both parties would not agree is if they already know what the answer would be. Let’s assume that both parties are honest at least for now.
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The Government and Universities