Monday, November 30, 2009

Wait Just a Minute, Mr. Hillier

General, I'm having a hard time understanding your statements about what you knew about torture in Afghanistan.

On the one hand, we have these quotes from General Hillier:
The former general, who was Canada's top soldier during Colvin's posting in Afghanistan in 2006-07, said he has reread all of the diplomat's widely circulated reports to ensure that Colvin's alleged concerns did not escape his notice the first time around.

"There was simply nothing there," Hillier told a House of Commons committee on Afghanistan. "There was nothing there to warrant the intervention of the chief of defence staff."

So the General is telling us that there was never anything in those reports that amounted to torture. As far as he knew, there was no torture taking place. Nada. No need for anyone to take action.

Then what's this stuff doing in his book:

Rick Hillier, when he was Chief of the Defence Staff, says he kept his political masters fully informed about the harsh conditions of detainees in Afghan prisons, even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper and cabinet ministers claim they were told nothing.

In Spring 2007, The Globe and Mail reported on allegations of abuse of detainees in Afghan prisons. Mr. Hillier acknowledged that was to be expected.

"Their judicial and prison systems were still somewhat nascent, and there was always some risk that abuse could occur," he wrote.

... "we lost confidence that basic, responsible measures were in place to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners."

Throughout the process, Mr. Hillier writes, the federal government was kept fully informed of the military's handling of prisoners, which contradicts statements from the Prime Minister's Office.

So if we put that all together, there was nothing that made General Hillier worry about torture happening, and of course he kept the politicians in Ottawa informed of the torture.

In other words, if I may paraphrase: "I was unaware that a buck needed passing, but I passed the buck right quick."

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1 comment:

Dylan said...

Bravo! I'm embarrassed that it has taken me a week to have read this post and loved it.

Great work!

Could Hillier's future political ambitions be obstructing his memory of what he wrote in his own book? And if so, what does that say about his ability to recall, with accuracy, what he actually did in Afghanistan?

Why are Harper and Hillier now in agreement? Why is a public official being strung up even though what he is saying should be nothing new to Canadians?

These are my questions.