Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Hillier Time

General Rick Hillier, who has already told the press that he doesn't recall reading any reports about Afghan detainee torture from Richard Colvin, testifies at the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan this afternoon along with two of his military colleagues. (Watch online at CPAC.)

The denials by Harper et al continued today during QP even in the face of media reports that the Red Cross [was] told late about prisoner transfers and a revelation in Le Devoir that supports Colvin's testimony:

...the lead story in Le Devoir, “Torture: Ottawa should have acted sooner," which has a senior official reporting that the prisoner transfer issue finally appeared on Ottawa’s radar screen around Christmas 2006. By then, “it was increasingly apparent to everyone that there were big holes in the Protocol and that there was a real possibility that inmates were being abused.” While not criticizing the Army, which was doing "difficult work in a difficult environment" our source says that they "did not take this issue [of torture] seriously".
The Cons are betting the farm on Canadians lapping up every word of David Mulroney, who is hurriedly flying back from China this week to contradict Colvin's testimony when he appears before the committee on Thursday. Mulroney, without offering up any documentation, is more credible you see because Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay say he is. Case closed.

Except that it isn't. Not by a longshot.

During Hillier's opening statement, he said that he didn't receive any reports of torture in 2006. If that's true, why was it necessary to change the detainee transfer agreement? He even contradicted himself about who the detainees were. They weren't just "farmers", he maintained - then saying that, okay, maybe some of them were farmers but the military let them go. Or they were "farmers by day, Taliban by nite".

Between Harper and his various denialists, there are holes big enough to drive a truck through.


Colvin says he sent torture reports to minister's office


Canadians tend to believe Colvin: poll

A Canadian Press-Harris/Decima survey released Wednesday suggests twice as many Canadians believe Colvin's testimony than believe, as the government states, that he lacks credibility.

The survey found 51 per cent of respondents believed Colvin's statement that prisoners handed over by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities were likely abused and that the government knew of the problem.

Twenty-five per cent said they believed the Harper government's assertion that Colvin's claims are flimsy.

Colvin testimony on detainee torture 'ludicrous': Hillier

Feds bar whistleblower diplomat from handing over torture documents to MPs


Evan Solomon on CBC this afternoon reports that Colvin's lawyer said today that Colvin will give the documents he has to the committee - obviously risking the legal sanctions the Harper government has threatened him with.

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