Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Colvin rebuttal statement to come today

As the Conservatives play games and shut down the operation of the Special Afghan Commons Committee now, some developments will nevertheless keep rolling on without their interference. For example, here's what's coming today:
The no-show on Tuesday came as diplomat Richard Colvin prepared to break his silence Wednesday in a 20-page rebuttal of the federal government's claims it received no "credible allegations" of torture of prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities until late 2007.

Colvin's letter, to be submitted to the committee looking into the controversy, is certain to increase the pressure on the Conservative government to comply with a parliamentary resolution ordering it to produce uncensored documents related to the detainee issue.
A source said Colvin, who was a senior official in the Canadian embassy in Afghanistan in 2006-07, feels it is his "duty to correct the record and provide a complete and detailed record before the committee."

Colvin will address the claims, both in testimony and in public statements, made by three cabinet ministers, three generals and former top civil servants involved in overseeing the mission in Afghanistan. The source said the statements include: "nobody told us there was a problem"; the claim that as soon as the government was informed they fixed the problems; and that there were no credible allegations of the torture of Afghan detainees until late 2007.

"The idea is essentially to set the record straight," said the source. "And to provide the evidence and transparency the public's been calling for and the committee's been calling for on this issue."

The letter will be sent to committee members and is expected to be released to the public. (emphasis added)
That material should keep the committee in business. Sounds like Colvin's rebuttal will go right at some of the government's key defences since he testified.

So, Colvin is filing a response today. Sources have begun to speak to the media more freely - see Travers/bureaucrats Saturday, foreign affairs/defence officials speaking to CP on the weekend. That's been a big impetus behind this story, sources leaking to the media, almost bigger than any revelations, beyond Colvin, that have occurred at the committee. The media's role as an institution to help in exercising oversight of the government on this issue has been quite important. Keeping the story alive as well, committee members, of course, and academics who are also advancing the issue.

All of the above can carry on throughout whatever tactics the Harper government may have in store.