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Generals parrot the Conservative line of 'no reliable information' on torture.

So, the three military brass, led by the former General Hiller, as expected basically said that Colvin didn’t know what he was talking about when he made his testimony last week. Gauthier even questioned the dates of when Colvin first informed folks, saying they were off by a year.. or at least nothing got to him from Colvin til after the Globe and Mail’s expose on the torture story in 2007. None of these folks heard, or saw, anything on torture reports or concerns apparently from Colvin, or dismissed them.

However, when questioning them, one of the opposition party members on the committee, as reported by Kady O’Malley’s liveblogging of the event, had a key part of the testimony/questioning of the generals that I noticed and found significant:

..the Bloc Quebecois’ Claude Bachand, who remind the witnesses — and the rest of us, of course — that the point of this investigation is to *protect* the military apparatus, particularly when there is the risk of Geneva convention violations. What they’re looking for is the danger that Canadian troops knew there was the risk of torture, and the prisoners were transferred anyway. He also points out that, given the unity in the Canadian Forces, it’s not surprising that none of the witnesses before him would contradict each other — but there are other sources who have different claims, including Amnesty International, the Afghanistan Human Rights Commission, various European diplomats, journalists — everyone but the military seems to acknowledge there was torture, yet these witnesses seem to be denying it.

..there’s a moment of increasingly pointed silence before Gauthier — the only one on whom Hillier’s eyes were fixed — takes the floor. He notes, somewhat haltingly, that he wasn’t on the ground at the time, and points out that it was up to these experts to alert them to the fact that there was a problem before June 2007.  Wait, huh?

Exactly.. huh?  Somehow, I kept thinking of Sgt Schulz from Hogan’s Heroes repeating “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!” from listening to these guys testimony.

As a matter of fact, this song seemed to pop into my head while I was observing these 3.

..Call it a strange coincidence. Seriously, it would be rather farcically amusing some of what has been going on here… except for the subject matter at hand and what may have occurred on our watch – either overtly or covertly.

9 comments to Generals parrot the Conservative line of ‘no reliable information’ on torture.

  • billg

    Bull: Maybe you have it bang on. Wont know for a while, but, you can bet attack ad’s are being made up as we speak.

  • billg

    Sorry Jimbobby…I was not giving my impression of Colvin but of the impression of him that will be used, he did say that “every” prisoner was tortured, and, did say that the Canadian Military held innocent civilians on a regular basis…all of this without actually seeing it. I’m sure Colvin was frustrated, and, I’m sure it took courage to do what he did, and, the Conservative’s handled this very poorly, but, sooner or later this was going to come down to a Diplomat’s word who never actually saw what he’s claiming happened versus the word of the Canadian Military, and, because the intent of the questioning in QP it makes the Liberals take the word of Colvin over the word of the Canadian Military, and, I just cant understand how they couldnt see this coming.

    • Bull Caller

      @billg,

      Bill, unfortunately on this issue the cows have already left the barn. Colvin’s testimony is generally accepted as being honest and truthful, and the public usually regards the military version of any event with skepticism being that anything they report usually has seen the business end of a jiffy marker under the “national security meme”. At best, Hillier & co. may have bought Harper time, but have done nothing to lend credibility to their argument. The fact remains that they were informed, repeatedly, denied it, and now continue to deny it even in the face of evidence that proves otherwise. And, we haven’t even seen the stuff they are blocking us from seeing yet. I think this issue is stuck on Harper and Mackay’s face like crazy glue – and changing the channel to say its about “the trooooopzzz” is just a frail attempt at reframing the argument. The die has been cast. The Harper government was informed, they did nothing, lied about there being any problem, then changing their tune when their lies are uncovered, just like pretty much every other major issue in this country since 2006 (see economy, isotopes, environment(still in denial there))… etc. etc.. nowhere to go but down I think.

  • Gayle

    bill – I also pointed out yesterday that Colvin’s evidence risked his career, and that no one would expect Hillier’s evidence to risk his. I never expected Hillier to admit he knew about the torture. He did parrot the government when he talked about “credible” reports, slamming Colvin for presumably accepting sources that were not credible.

    But here is the problem – the sources WERE credible, what with it turning out to be true that prisoners were being tortured.

  • billg

    Well..I said it yesterday and your blog today proves it..the result of all of this was to either call the Generals liars or inept. You have refered to them as “three blind mice” and as a stumbling Sgt Schulz character. Yesterday, Gayle said that attacking the messenger by the Cons was childish and stupid, today, you attack the messengers, and, I’m not saying your entirely wrong, but, one wears a 3000$ suit and has been outside the “wire” once in Afghanastan, and, the other 3 walked outside the “wire” unprotected every day, fair or unfair its how mosts Canadians will see it.

    • @billg, The generals are not “messengers.” They are the guys who were in charge of things. If they didn’t know, like they say, then why not? Serious problems were identified by the ICRC at a time when O’Connor was stating that “if there were any problems, we’d have heard about it from the ICRC.” The ICRC was talking but only Colvin, it seems, was listening and passing along ICRC’s concerns to his political masters.

      When you cast aspersions on Colvin’s credibility by estimating the price of his suit and denigrating his non-combat role, you insult all diplomats in strife torn locales. Colvin volunteered to go to Afghanistan in the wake of diplomat Glynn Berry’s killing at the hands of the enemy. Respect him for his courage.

  • Dr.Munster

    Jesus Christ Tribe, do you have any sense of objectivity at all? Anyone who makes any allegation against the Harper government? Automatically assume they’re saints and telling the gospel truth! Anyone who sides with the Harper government? They’re parrots who are untrustworthy!

    Yes, someone is clearly lying here. I’m just not sure where the hell you get your certainty that it’s Hillier et al – except of course from your unemployed, basement-dwelling self-righteousness. Grow the f*ck up.

    Maybe it’s time to get a paying job instead of spending endless hours every day being a snivelling, whining asshole. Or maybe you’re one of those lazy bums Gerald Keddy was talking about.

    • Al

      @Dr.Munster, I suppose the Red Cross also lacks objectivity as they are the latest to admit they had serious concerns about the Afghan treatment of prisoners.
      http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/afghanmission/article/731056–mackay-s-office-got-red-cross-warnings-about-afghan-treatment

    • @Dr.Munster, If the government has nothing to hide, why are the refusing to release the documents Colvin says will prove what he is saying is correct? If the government and the generals are indeed correct, then releasing the docs would immediately discredit Colvin and end this immediately.

      But they aren’t. Why do think that is? Could it be that they in fact DO back up Colvin and prove what he is saying is correct?

      There is no reason to withhold the information except to cover up this government’s utter incompetence on this and perhaps even their willingness to place our soldiers in the uncomfortable position of aiding war crimes, all to look good to the past and present administration and to play to their ignorant, chickenhawk base for domestic political gain.

      Perhaps dear Munster, its you who really ought to grow the f*ck up and stop trying to excuse this crap.

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