Saturday, December 12, 2009

No longer in the mood

Items catching the eye today on the Afghan matter...

"Soldiers did their duty when those shortcomings became obvious on the ground; Colvin did his job by reporting what he saw and learned, mostly from the Red Cross. After that, the trail disappears in documents that bureaucrats say privately are being blacked out more to protect political skins than national security and are now at the centre of the constitutional conflict between hide-all Conservatives and show-all opposition parties."
Rick Hillier, formerly Canada’s top soldier, isn’t commenting about the recent revelations that Canadian-captured prisoners transferred to Afghan authorities were later tortured.

"I haven’t followed it," Mr. Hillier said Friday in Halifax.

"I’m really not even in the mood or the ability to comment upon it, at this point, because I have not followed it in detail."
Interesting statement from the usually talkative Hillier.

Christie Blatchford weighs in again, sounding a bit chastened and largely advocating for trust in the soldiers on the field who acted honourably as she observed them in Afghanistan. Which is a point that no one is really disputing at all throughout the course of these discussions. The government's actions continue to make detainee treatment an issue, changing their story repeatedly as new evidence trickles out, refusing now to release documents to a committee willing to accommodate security issues. It's that top of the chain of command whose behaviour is under the microscope and whom the opposition has focussed upon. And as has been pointed out, that's where the ultimate responsibility for such issues would rest. So her warning at the end of the column to the opposition to keep in mind the soldiers on the ground when people are debating "complicity in torture," while useful, should also be tempered by that knowledge. To her credit, she does call out the Harper government for their appropriation of the patriotism card.

Blatchford also has an army source speak to her about the 2006 incident that General Natynczyk clarified this week. Again, this does nothing to inform the parliamentary committee looking into the issue, it's unexamined whispering into a reporter's ear. The best resolution remains for the committee to get access to information through a reasonable process, unobstructed by third hand accounts, government censorship and defiance.