Monday, April 30, 2007

Nothing to see here, says Van Loan

Let me get this straight...our Conservative government's position is this. Because Taliban have been instructed to lie, any allegations of torture of Afghan prisoners are baseless and undermine the Canadian troops. So says soprano Peter Van Loan once again on Sunday. There are no specific names of victims offered, says Van Loan, otherwise we'd be happy to "chase them down." Like this is an everyday crime being alleged on the streets of his downtown Newmarket for the local police to tidily investigate.

He maintains this position in the face of the Globe reports that provided names of torture victims and whose reporter is standing by his story in the face of immense pressure being applied to those who corroborated him in Afghanistan. In the face of NATO welcoming an Afghan investigation of the allegations. In the face of this CTV report interviewing a man who alleges torture. In the face of the government's own internal Foreign Affairs report warning of allegations of torture, such warnings blacked out by the Conservative government in copies they reluctantly disclose. In the face of reporting that the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission does not have the access required to Afghan prisons to support Van Loan's bald statements that allegations of torture are baseless.

Nope, nothing to see here. Move along says lawyer Peter Van Loan. In spite of all these blinking indicators, he on behalf of this government stands his ground that the allegations are baseless.

I wonder if the government would react to a terrorist threat in the same shirking manner? If they read reports of a possible terrorist plot in the Globe, with witnesses speaking of what they've been hearing and seeing, with an internal government report warning of a plot...what do you think they'd be doing? Standing on the streets of Newmarket, like Van Loan, and calling the allegations "baseless?" No, I don't think so. They'd be giving much credence to the Globe, those witnesses and that government report.

His government continues to do little to inspire the confidence of Canadians that they are taking sufficient action to deal with these torture allegations or that they understand at all how their reluctant and incompetent handling of the issue has hobbled our international reputation.