PORT OF SPAIN–Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a partisan shot at his opposition critics while touring the HMCS Quebec in Trinidad-Tobago Sunday.What Jeff Jedras said.
The Canadian ship and navy officers are helping with security for the Commonwealth summit. Harper, in brief comments to the Canadians, was addressing allegations that Canadian civilian and military leaders ignored warnings of a risk of torture in Afghan prisons.
"Let me just say this: living as we do, in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you."
And, let me just add: Peter MacKay is a Terminally Confused Man.
First there were no allegations. Then there were "credible" allegations so they changed the transfer agreement. Then Richard Colvin was lying because he said there were allegations. Then David Mulroney said there were no allegations (but he could not vouch 100% that Canadian soldiers did not, in fact, hand over detainees who were then abused). Then Peter MacKay said there were no allegations - credible or otherwise - but they changed the agreement apparently just for the hell of it.
2 questions remain:
1. Will there be a public inquiry?
2. Will MacKay lose his job?
The answer to both is: doubtful.
The Cons are running scared from an inquiry - looking as guilty as the cat that ate the canary. And MacKay, the Con who allowed Harper to take the lead when the old Reform and Progressive Conservative parties merged, isn't likely to go down easily. Steve owes him. That's why he's held the high-ranking government positions he's had since that mismatched marriage.
When this scandal came up a couple of years ago, then incompetent Defence minister Gordon O'Connor was turfed - having become a political liability once his inconsistencies and lies began to emerge. He was expendable. MacKay is following the same path of untruthfulness. But he is being heavily protected at every turn. If he does fall on his sword, the resulting ripples that would run through the party could cause a major mess for the Harperites. I could be wrong about the current state of the inside baseball. But that's the way I see it.
The Cons are struggling to contain this scandal and the opposition parties have to keep pushing as hard as they can. This cannot be one of those issues over which the Cons are given another pass - especially since the ICC has now injected itself into the affair.
The ICC's chief prosecutor, though, has no intention of waiting for Washington to submit to the court's authority. Luis Moreno Ocampo says he already has jurisdiction—at least with respect to Afghanistan.Wait a minute there: did he just impugn the might military? Quick. Someone alert Steve and his bully buddies so they can jump all over Mr Ocampo too.
Because Kabul in 2003 ratified the Rome Statute—the ICC's founding treaty—all soldiers on Afghan territory, even those from nontreaty countries, fall under the ICC's oversight, Mr. Ocampo told me. And the chief prosecutor says he is already conducting a "preliminary examination" into whether NATO troops, including American soldiers, fighting the Taliban may have to be put in the dock.
"We have to check if crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide have been committed in Afghanistan," Mr. Ocampo told me. "There are serious allegations against the Taliban and al Qaeda and serious allegations about warlords, even against some who are connected with members of the government." Taking up his inquiry of Allied soldiers, he added, "there are different reports about problems with bombings and there are also allegations about torture."
And, if you need more proof of our western exceptionalist attitude, check out this bit by the author of that same WSJ article:
I asked the obvious follow-up. "If this is the 'new world,' why do you bother collecting information about NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan?" Why, in other words, when his task is to end the impunity for the worst war crimes, does he spend his limited resources on the most advanced democracies in the world—which operate under strict rules of engagement, have their own chain-of-command investigations and swift prosecution of criminals? Mr. Ocampo got slightly irritated.No doubt. The arrogance of that reporter is astounding. But it's only symbolic of how we view ourselves and our conduct in these so-called wars of "necessity" despite the fact that we have failed miserably to be anything near accountable for the horrors we are responsible for.