Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Torture Coverup: Today's Developments

- The military police complaints commission hearings are scheduled to resume in March, 2010, "but whether the federal government actually lets it proceed is uncertain." Meanwhile:

The Liberals turned up the heat on the Tories Thursday by using their opposition day to introduce a Commons motion to force the government to release documents on the detainee issue.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff accused the government of censoring with "Soviet zeal" and demanded to see all records related to incident referred to by Natynczyk.

- I really don't know why Ottawa-centered journalists think this issue has no legs outside of their little bubble. The latest EKOS poll shows that the majority think Afghan detainees were tortured and that this government knew about it.

Only Conservative supporters are slightly less likely to believe that the government was aware that prisoners might be tortured. Even so, nearly 68 per cent of Conservative supporters think the government was aware of that possibility.
That is definitely significant. And the fact that parliament will go on hiatus tonite for its holiday break does not ensure that this scandal won't come back with even more force in the new year - especially since Richard Colvin is drafting a rebuttal to the testimony of the government-friendly witnesses.

The fact that the one 2006 incident that we know of (and which alludes to others), thanks to the affidavit of Noonan in 2007, is front and center again 2 years of being shelved shows that the Conservatives can't run away from reality or accountability.

When that incident came to light in May, 2007, Peter Van Loan was the government's bully-boy who tried endlessly to make it go away. He called it "roughhousing". More recently, General Lewis MacKenzie, appearing on the right-wing talk radio David Rutherford Show in Calgary this week said he wasn't all that concerned about some guy being beaten up. Shit happens. It's a war. Rick Hillier recently minimized the incident as well. These generals don't seem to care that Canadian soldiers were so concerned about the fate of their transferred detainees that they resorted to taking before and after pictures because they knew abuse was happening. They weren't listened to. Their reports were dismissed and censored.

When Peter MacKay gave his opening statement to the special committee on Wednesday, he said that torture was "abhorrent". But it obviously was not "abhorrent" enough for him to pay attention to as foreign minister since he then went on to pathetically justify his inaction by droning on repeatedly about how "complex" the Afghanistan situation was. He should have just admitted that he was too incompetent to handle all of the duties he was responsible for at that time.

On top of all of that, and this is perhaps one of the most shocking revelations about this government's disdain for the law considering it's coming from our current Foreign Affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, in his opening statement he wondered why people were "fixated on the well-being of individuals who are suspected of being our enemies". (h/t BCCLA blog) He obviously refuses to even acknowledge the Geneva Conventions. This is the same man who banned the phrase "child soldiers" from the department's vocabulary and took "humanitarian" out of the phrase "international humanitarian law".

Typical of this Conservative party - thinking they can make issues of justice disappear by simply censoring them.

That obviously hasn't worked. And Cannon's performance has been despicable.

...this April [2009], when Cannon blamed Omar Khadr, a former child recruit of Al Qaeda held since 2002 at the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, for making bombs that killed Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

"We saw this man apparently making the same bombs that have taken the life of a certain number of our soldiers," he said, referring to TV footage of Khadr making bombs. The comments were false.

Khadr was not in the vicinity where Canadians were operating at the time. A retraction followed.
It's clear that the Conservative agenda is to fearmonger and paint their critics as enemies of the military as long as they think they can get away with it. The problem is that actual evidence is corroding what little shred of credibility there was that they thought they had in the first place. They are their own worst enemies. If they truly believed in their collective innocence, they would release all of the documents they have - unredacted - in order to prove it. Instead, they are fighting their release every step of the way using the tired "national security" excuse.

And, in case you're keeping score, it's now:

Former Canadian ambassadors: 71

Conservatives: 0

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