Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Richard Colvin's devastating letter of rebuttal

On Airshow MacKay's attempt to discredit Colvin by accusing him of not having brought up detainee abuse the one time MacKay met with Colvin in Afghanistan :
He, Colvin, had only been on the job for 10 days and had not met with any detainees yet.
And even if he had, protocol was to report to DFAIT, not the minister.

On Christie Blatchford's Con-fed column that Colvin had only been outside the wire once :
Colvin : 'Outside the wire' in Kandahar at least 11 times, in Kabul over 500 times.

On the claim his reports in 2006 did not use the word 'torture' :
Colvin : Six reports, one including the phrase " rife with torture"

On the government claim it heard no allegations of "torture" prior to April 2007:
Colvin : "... in early March 2007, I informed an interagency meeting of some 12 to 15 officials in Ottawa that, 'The NDS tortures people, that's what they do, and if we don't want our detainees tortured, we shouldn't give them to the NDS.' ... The response from the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) note-taker was to stop writing and put down her pen."

On the claim that it was only insurgents and Taliban who were detained:
Colvin : "... it was the NDS that told us that many or most of our detainees were unconnected to the insurgency. This assessment was reported to Ottawa. The NDS also told us that, because the intelligence value of Canadian-transferred detainees was so low, it did not want them."

On the government claim that it took action as soon as it was informed of abuse :
They were informed repeatedly of the risk of torture, the deficiencies of Canada's monitoring system, and delays in reports to the ICRC in 2006 in reports from the Provincial Reconstruction Team, the US State Department, and the US Secretary General. They finally sent someone in October 2007 who immediately confirmed torture.
The government also twice intervened to keep a torturer named by the PRT in place.

On Interdepartmental Coordinator for Afghanistan David Mulroney's statement that the only reason reports were edited was to remove 'opinion' or 'non‐fact based' information.
Colvin : Embassy staffers were told that they should not report information, however accurate, that conflicted with the government's public messaging. Ambassador Lalani instructed that we not report that the security situation was deteriorating.
In September 2007, an embassy staffer, in response to a written request from DFAIT's Afghanistan Taskforce to contribute to a security assessment by one of our NATO allies, sent a report that security in Kandahar had got worse and was likely to further deteriorate. Mr. Mulroney severely rebuked the officer in writing.

On Assistant Deputy Minister Colleen Swords' testimony that she told Colvin to phone first, write later :
Colvin : "Her message to me was that I should use the phone instead of writing..."

On the claim from Goldie, Gallant, MacKay, Abbott that "Afghan detainees are trained to claim torture."
Colvin : They are not Al Qaeda; they are peasants. We arrest them and turn them over to torturers. Why would they make any claims of torture, false or otherwise, to us? They don't trust us. Besides, reports of torture based on physical exams, not testimony.

And so on and so on. Absolutely devastating.

When Colvin originally testified at the Afghan Committee, he was just doing his job - appearing as summoned. As he stated today - he is not a whistleblower.
Today's letter, on what he politely termed the "inaccuracies" of the government's witnesses and MPs and camp followers, is even more damaging than his original testimony.

Government response?
Fucking idiot Goldie Hawn : "Now is not the time to accuse our troops of war crimes."
Peter MacKay's spokesweasel, Dan Dugas : "We reject all assertions that Canadian troops have committed war crimes."

Which is interesting in light of Colvin's letter. Note that he does not even obliquely lay blame on the military brass, never mind the troops.
Nope, it's all on MacKay, DFAIT and the Privy Council Office.
And this is why Harper has refused to release the docs to Peter Tinsley's Military Police Complaints Committee and the Afghan Committee, has fired Peter Tinsley, has intimidated witnesses from appearing before the Afghan committee, has refused to allow the Afghan Committee to continue their investigation, and has refused to call a public inquiry as voted on by the House.

All because one civil servant insisted on doing his job.


Anonymous said...

Hey Goldie, if all that happened was some guy got hit with shoe, why did Canadian troops take him back into custody and why is it a matter of national security?
We're looking at you, Kevin Lynch.


Anonymous said...

Is it really so "devastating"? Sounded to me a lot like repeating the same stuff, with a little innuendo and character assassination, especially of his boss.

He should be careful. Most Canadians support his right to speak the truth as befits his duty as a civil servant, but not to insult other people and imply that his opinions are gospel.

Alison said...

Anon : Blow me. There were no "insults" in that letter.

After calling him a Taliban dupe, MacKay stated repeatedly in the House, reports backing up Colvin from soldiers in the field notwithstanding, that there was not one single instance of Canadian detainees being abused.

Colvin opened his letter with :
"Some of their evidence, with respect, was inaccurate or incomplete. This supplementary written evidence to the Committee aims to clarify some of these issues."

So where's the insult?

An insult, Anon, is Harper shutting down the only government committee authorized to look into it after throttling the MPCC.
An insult is Harper refusing Colvin access to his own reports before his appearance before the committee.
An insult is Harper ignoring the vote in parliament for a public inquiry.
An insult, Anon, is your opinion of public servants doing their job in the face of rank intimidation.

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