Saturday, December 19, 2009

More explaining for MacKay

Regarding this story, "Canada's troops investigated for Afghan abuse," and this story, "Source: Afghan detainee mistreated in Canadian custody," a few points...

This marks a significant public turning point in the discussion about this issue. To date we've been talking in terms of Afghans abusing Canadian-transferred detainees. Putting Canadian troops in the mix definitely ramps up the focus on the issue and the severity of the situation for Canadian conduct in Afghanistan. To date the government has essentially been able to shluff off the issue - spin wise, anyway - to how Afghans treat other Afghans. What do you expect, perfection, we've heard as the spin, in terms of conditions in Afghan prisons. Now this is a new turn, it's us in the spotlight.

It's not clear whether the incident referenced in the report is the one that is still being investigated as noted in the CBC report:
"The military police determined that the allegations were unfounded in five of the six cases, and the remaining investigation is ongoing," said Major Paule Poulin, a spokesperson for the Canadian Forces Provost Marshall.
We might hear Peter MacKay maintain he hasn't said anything wrong when he said this:
"The member is suggesting by implication that the military did something wrong, that somehow they did not do the right thing. That is what is so despicable," MacKay said on Dec. 10.
Five of six cases were proven to be unfounded and one remains ongoing and unresolved, therefore, MacKay would say he was justified in batting back accusations about the troops. But MacKay knew about these investigations yet he - and Harper and others - gamely participated in a p.r. patriotism affront against the opposition, accusing them of smearing the troops (when they hadn't at all). The lengths they will go to continue to amaze.

And apparently the information was authorized to be publicly disclosed anyway, as it should be. That's what MacKay's question period briefing notes indicate. The fact that these investigations have occurred/are ongoing is cited as an answer to be given "If pressed on pre-transfer allegations." These briefing notes appear to have been obtained by CBC (or someone else and given to CBC) through an access to information request, see the briefing note document at the very top, "Information Unclassified." Wouldn't MacKay know this would be made public? So it's strange that he wouldn't disclose the information. After all, the military should be investigating such incidents, it's not inconceivable that such allegations would arise during battlefield conditions and need to be dealt with. It's not all good, there's bad and there's ugly....but MacKay opts for the Conservative tendency to hide information. Canadians have a right to know how the mission is being conducted in our names.

That report raises a lot of questions too. How can MacKay's office credibly claim not to know about that incident when MacKay is being briefed about other allegations in his question period briefing notes? It's just not credible. He knows of some allegations but not others? What does he know, anyway?

More explaining for MacKay but he's really just continuing to lose credibility with such news. It's hard to see how he can credibly remain a Minister of Defence with these ongoing revelations. MacKay's statements have been undermined so many times now, it's almost getting embarrassing to watch.