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Saturday reading material (mostly on detainees)

Some stuff for you to read/view on a Saturday:

– Warren Kinsella produced his big announcement last night on Power Play – an unredacted official document on Afghan detainee transfers – and explains on the air what it says, reducing Tim Powers to parroting his Conservative talking points.

Andrew Potter over at Maclean’s is worried where this Parliamentary showdown might lead to. As I and others said in comments over there, he need not be. This is all on Harper’s head and his government’s head, and the opposition parties are correct in what they’re doing and shouldn’t back down.

– Stephen Maher of the Chronicle-Herald says that the Conservatives handling of the detainee issue “screams coverup”. All the more reason for a public inquiry and/or the turning over of all unredacted detainee documents to Parliament.

– In the same paper, Jim Meek says the Conservative government has been wounded – much of it self-inflicted, and makes this poignant remark:

Today, I figure it would be a very good idea for the Canadian government to act like the model democratic one it says it is trying to promote in Afghanistan. If we want to convince the people of that ancient and unconquerable land that open and honest government is worth all the bloodshed, maybe we should start practising what we preach along the banks of the Rideau.

– Some good summaries over at Impolitical’s place – Former General Rick Hillier, who is normally never at a loss of words, seems to not want to comment on the past weeks revelations of proven and known prisoner abuse. Curious how he suddenly has decided to clam up, when his “totally ludicrous” description/charge against diplomat Richard Colvin’s testimony has been found to be not so ludicrous. Maybe he doesnt want to get hauled back in front of the Afghanistan Committee. Also some good summaries from Jim Travers, and an amusing half-hearted attempt by Christie Blatchford to defend herself and her original column from last week. Impolitical is very polite but very thorough in rebutting her.

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10 comments to Saturday reading material (mostly on detainees)

  • A reader

    Again, it was not the document and not the political party, but the manner in which it was paraded out. I think you actually understand this point, but are reflexively defending your own tribe now, which is fine. The stunts have been stunting your growth, as it were, though, and they need to stop if this issue is going to be handled properly.

  • A reader

    Fine. If he’d had it for several days, why not pass along to one of your MPs on the Afghanistan Committee where it could have been useful. Why trumpet its existence as a great big secret on his blog, and turn it into a publicity stunt for Warren Kinsella. The “very important point” you say he was trying to make gets lost in the “look at me, I’m still relevant” of doing it as a stunt and trying to sandbag Tim Powers on Tom Clark.

    Hardly a credible way to raise what is a serious point about a serious issue and be taken seriously.

    And I am NO Conservative, but actually Tim Powers responded the only way you could really expect him to under the circumstances, because this was nothing to do with trying to advance our understanding of what transpired … it was about advancing Warren Kinsella.

    • @A reader, More stuff coming out from along the same timeline as Warren mentioned. I’ve just received a Liberal press release about documents obtained under the FOIA before all the controversy over this and the claims of ‘national security” occurred, when the gov’t decided to issue that claim for any document to do with this issue. I’ll be posting about it shortly (perhaps tomorrow)

    • @A reader, Well, I’m no Liberal. All I’m seeing is that Kinsella is painting a picture, here. He brought forward a document which showed how the government _used_ to act (responsibly, in my opinion). He then makes the point that the government chose to stop issuing these reports soon after questions first surfaced in 2006 — a move which makes oversight of this very serious issue much harder. He then submits another document which, while not connected to the first, suggests that people within the Conservative government felt that the Geneva Convention did not apply to this case, suggesting that they, at least, saw nothing wrong with the possibility of handing over prisoners to prisons where torture or other human rights abuses were likely to occur.

      These two documents aren’t connected to each other, and they aren’t connected to the censored documentation the government has been allowing out. But it paints a picture of a government that seemed not to care about the issue of human rights abuses in Afghanistan and, worse, wanted to duck responsibility for this issue should an interested public come calling. And this unfortunate approach has been mirrored by the government’s intransigence in refusing to give up uncensored documentation, even to military oversight officials that had the proper security clearances to look at this sort of thing.

      It looks more and more like the Conservative government has identified its own political interest and the country’s interest as synonymous, and that’s the type of arrogance that got Paul Martin booted from power back in 2006. The Conservatives, in my opinion, deserve similar treatment.

      Did what Warren Kinsella do amount to a stunt? Of course it did. But it highlights that this sort of “surprise leak” may be the only way that the Canadian public is going to get the information they deserve to know about. And in terms of actual danger to soldiers on the ground (a comment raised over at Kinsella’s blog), there was none. It was a document from 2006, and it had nothing to do with the specific questions of what alert was sent to which minister, where and when. Again, it was a document that the government used to generate in order to make monitoring of such a situation easier (and thus less likely to abuse), and which the government stopped producing, for reasons that are not exactly clear.

      • A reader

        “…this sort of “surprise leak” may be the only way that the Canadian public is going to get the information they deserve to know about.”

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, James. I don’t think it’s the only way the Canadian public could get that information. And I don’t believe it makes Canadians takes the Liberal Party very seriously either, I’m afraid.

        There was a very good all-party performance in the Committee the past few weeks that was stunt-free and content-heavy. This is the way I remember the Commons at its best. Maybe you’re too young to have seen it work that way before, but it was dignified.

        What Warren did was a childish stunt. He is not the story, and he’s been a staffer long enough to know that he shouldn’t be the story. Pathetic.

  • To: A Reader,

    I saw the same clip, and what you should note is that the document that he held up was not among the heavily censored documents that the government has reluctantly released. Rather, the point he was making (and it’s a good one) was that the government engaged in a fair amount of paperwork when it came to detainee transfers. They knew who was being handed over by whom, to whom, and when. Until, that is, this practice _stopped_, soon after questions about the detainee transfers started to surface, around 2007. Note that there was no national security justification for this change in policy; the activity of the government was not seen to violate national security, and no reason was given for the change of policy, which suggests that it’s political or some reason other than security.

    It is another symptom of a government operating as though it has something to hide.

  • A reader

    Scott, I believe you’ve just received the first ever spam-marxist comment I’ve ever seen on a blog!

    • @A reader, Oh, I’ve had stuff from him before. He’s attempting to be a parody of a Marxist actually.. and a parody of a progressive blogger as well. I’ve removed his comments and will be attempting to keep him off the site.

  • A reader

    Warren should be careful about turning serious matters into publicity stunts; it harms more than just his credibility on an issue this weighty.

    If they were so damning, shouldn’t the documents have been turned over to someone official before now, instead of being trumpeted on his blog for days ahead of time?

    I fear he’s just trying to relive his glory days, when our democracy is under threat. It’s not becoming.

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