Saturday, December 5, 2009

John Baird is The Latest Weapon But Richard Colvin is Still Winning

You always know when the Reformers are in serious trouble, because they unleash pitbull Baird. Baird is not actually a purebred pitbull though. He is a mixed breed. Actually the result of an experiment that went terribly wrong.

I guess that's what happens when you try to cross a pitbull with an alligator. Nothing but a big floppy mouth.

However, despite the fact that Harper and his crew are trying to suggest that Richard Colvin had little to do with the Afghan mission, suggesting that he was only out of the compound once; evidence contradicts this, and not even Baird can bark his way out of this one.

Colvin portrayal not fitting the bill
Embattled diplomat far from lone voice on detainee abuse
By David Pugliese
The Ottawa Citizen
December 5, 2009

He's been portrayed by Defence Minister Peter MacKay as a Taliban dupe and other Conservative ministers have criticized how he did his job in Afghanistan.

But as government documents regarding Afghan detainees continue to be released, the picture emerging of Foreign Affairs official Richard Colvin appears far different.

In those records, obtained by the Citizen, Colvin is shown trying to push National Defence and Foreign Affairs to fix a flawed detainee process as Red Cross representatives in Afghanistan complained several times about how Canada was handling prisoners.

And contrary to the government's portrayal of Colvin as a lone voice of dissent, records show he consulted with other diplomats and military officers about his reports and e-mails before they were sent to Ottawa.

In addition, the documents contradict claims by the Harper government and retired general Rick Hillier that there was solid evidence to prove all the Afghans captured were insurgents.

Hiller has dismissed Colvin's claims that many Afghans taken captive were innocent.

But the records indicate it was the Afghan National Directorate of Security, or NDS, that was complaining Canada wasn't providing proof those being captured were involved with the insurgency. As a result the NDS was having to release many of those individuals captured by Canadians.

Newly leaked government documents bolster Colvin's concerns and indicate such problems continue. An NDS commander "was refusing to accept Canadian-transferred detainees due to NDS claims of insufficient evidence being provided," says a Sept. 19, 2009 memo, shown to The Canadian Press. Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan, William Crosbie, "indicated that the subsequent release of detainees is having a profound and demoralizing affect on our soldiers," the document says.

On Friday, MacKay's parliamentary secretary, Conservative MP Laurie Hawn, acknowledged in the House of Commons for the first time that the Afghans had declined to take prisoners from the Canadian military because of a "lack of information or confusing information on detainees' personal information."

There have also been allegations about the extent of Colvin's travels in Afghanistan. Retired general Lewis MacKenzie said recently on CTV that based on information "from a very reliable source, (Colvin) was not permitted outside the wire in Kandahar probably once and maybe not more than once, and so was the victim of having to talk to a number of other people, diplomats, military, intelligence, et cetera, to send his opinion out on his now infamous e-mails, doing the very best he could with restrictions that were placed on him."

The claim that Colvin went off the base only once was also repeated by Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford.

It surfaced again on Tuesday, with the Conservatives using it to try to undercut Colvin's reputation. "Here is a man, Mr. Colvin, who spent about a day out of his entire tour outside of the wire and had these few interviews," said Treasury Board president Vic Toews.

The Citizen has confirmed, however, that Colvin left the base at least six times to travel into Kandahar, in addition to travelling to other locations in Afghanistan.

Opposition MPs have tried to defend Colvin's reputation, questioning why the diplomat was promoted to his current Washington job if his reports from the field were not credible. The MPs also point out that MacKay has acknowledged Colvin's concerns about prisoner abuse led to changes being made as to how detainees were being treated.

It now appears the Harper government is now refocusing its public relations strategy.

Transport Minister John Baird accused opposition MPs on Friday of insulting Canadian troops because of their continued questions about the detainee issue.

But opposition MPs note they have not blamed the soldiers for the problems with the detainee process. They argue they have instead focused on MacKay, Gordon O'Connor, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government.

No comments:

Post a Comment