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Some holes in the “we didn’t know transfers had stopped” defence? (Update: PMO retracts “military didn’t tell us” claim)

Ok, so the Conservative government is now claiming they weren’t aware of the Canadian Armed Forces having stopped the transfer of detainees to the Afghanistan authorities (even though most of us agree that it was a GOOD thing this happened, the Harper government seems embarrassed by it – maybe because of all those “You’re all Taliban lovers” attacks it hurled at the opposition parties when it was asked to halt the transfers after the allegations of prisoner abuse first came up).

Courtesy of the sharp eyes of Jimbobby, however, we find this story in the Ottawa Citizen about the testimony at the Federal Court involving the Amnesty/BCCLA lawsuit:

Earlier yesterday, Brig.-Gen. Joseph Paul Andre Deschamps told court that Canada’s second-in-command in Kandahar decided to suspend detainee transfers Nov. 6, one day after the incident came to light. Col. Christian Juneau took the decision after consulting with Defence Department headquarters in Ottawa because his boss, Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, was away on leave.’

They consulted with Defence Department HQ a day after this incident – a day.

Peter MacKay is the Defence Minister, supposedly in charge of matters like this. Did the Defence Department decide not to bother MacKay with this rather pertinent bit of information, and if so, who gave the go-ahead in Defence Dept. HQ to approve the halting of transfers?

One other bit of info in this piece I find interesting:

The government agonized for weeks over whether to tell Canadians that it had halted the transfer of Afghan detainees because it feared the Taliban might somehow use that against the military, the Federal Court was told yesterday…”One real issue for the government over the last few weeks has been: Should it be known if we are transferring,” Mr. Graham told Justice Anne Mactavish, adding that the government was not sure “what effect it will have on the enemy.”

I love this part:

Mr. Graham also took issue with Amnesty’s contention that government lawyers were withholding sensitive information because it might embarrass the government. “Public discussion of that information may mean more Canadian troops are killed,”

So, the fact the Cons. are agonizing over revealing to the Canadian public about the Armed Forces having stopped prisoner transfers has nothing to do with the fact the Cons. are being shown to be wrong on this issue and for trying to use this to their advantage to attack the Opposition for believing “Taliban propaganda” and being embarrased by all this. It’s because we’ll get more of our soldiers killed… right. Pardon me for being sceptical about that. I’d have been asking that guy in court yesterday if he realized he was under oath when he uttered that bit of nonsense.

Something else I want to bring up is this: let’s presume for a moment that no one in Defence Dept HQ bothered to tell MacKay or anyone else in the government, and the government really only did find out about this change in policy a few weeks ago. Remember, they have been “agonizing” since then whether to tell everyone, because they might aid the Taliban if they told any of us, and get more of our soldiers killed – not because it would be an embarrassment to them.

That sounds awfully familiar to how George Bush and company have operated in Iraq and how releases of embarrassing info was also giving comfort to the enemy there. It sounds as if Harper and the Cons are following the same script.

UPDATE: We now find out that Sandra Buckler, chief communications director for the PMO, has retracted her statement yesterday that the military didn’t inform the government about halting prisoner transfers, but then refuses to say if the military informed the government or not. That’s operational matters, you see, for the military… yikes. It’s turning into a 3-ring circus over there. They’d better use the weekend to get their story straight once Parliament resumes on Monday. (H/T to Impolitical)

3 comments to Some holes in the “we didn’t know transfers had stopped” defence? (Update: PMO retracts “military didn’t tell us” claim)

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