Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Stephen Harper Party kneels before the High Priestess

As Steve V says, interesting defence of Sandra Buckler.
"She acknowledged she misspoke, and she handled herself in a professional and competent fashion," said Mr. Van Loan. "If everybody up on the Hill who misspoke themselves once in their life had to resign, none of you would be here, I wouldn't be here, nobody would be here up on Parliament Hill."
No, Van Loan, she lied. Further, in an effort to shed her nasty little boss in a better light, she tried to blame the troops. So, what does Van Loan do? He just adds to the lie.
"The question of transfers is one that has always been an operational decision of the military in the field and we aren't going to comment on that," government House leader Peter Van Loan told reporters.
Grab that. That's their talking point. They don't have another one. So when Buckler flat-out lied it had already been distributed as the scripted answer. The great dodge.

Van Loan is full of shit. The operational decision in the field is limited. The longer term decision is one requiring government approval.

Then he adds this:
But Mr. Van Loan said the disclosure of too many details about detainees could endanger Canadian troops.

"To give information about where they may be, whether they're being transferred or not, where they're being held, how many there may be and so on, that's the kind of information that would put our troops in the field at risk."

More bullshit.

Nobody asked for specific details. The general arrangements however, are a matter of public policy. I will repeat, once a combatant has been taken prisoner divulging the fact is a matter of meeting an international standard of conduct. The enemy already knows who has been taken prisoner and they have a good accounting of the numbers. Disclosure of those details does not put any Canadian troops at any more risk than they already are.

In fact, in order to comply with the Geneva Conventions, Canada must disclose who has been taken prisoner and provide for monitoring by a third party. Van Loan seems have missed the point that Canada's policy towards all captive taken in theatre is to observe all aspects of the rules of armed conflict including the treatment and processing of enemy combatants taken prisoner.

The risk to our troops is being created by the Harperites who, in an effort to save their own political asses and hide from the embarrassment generated by their own ridiculous secrecy, are suggesting that Canadian troops are not required to observe the rules which have been driven into the Canadian military ethos from the first day a person enters the service.

Peter MacKay and Stockwell Day are always more than willing to point out that the "enemy" is watching and listening to the debate in Canada. That when we question "the mission" we embolden the "enemy".

They might then want to listen to their own words. If the "enemy" is keeping tabs on everything we debate surrounding Afghanistan, the fact that we are no longer transferring prisoners into Afghan government custody might actually increase the security of Canadian troops.

Despite the rabid howls from the mouth-breathers of the authoritarian right-wing, we have never had a Canadian soldier taken captive or tortured in Afghanistan. If MacKay and Day are right, then the fact that Canadian combatants treat prisoners with the respect due a surrendered combatant might one day translate to the difference, should any of our troops fall captive, between having a Canadian soldier returned whole and alive instead of in two or more separate pieces.

Interesting that Van Loan should express so much concern for the safety of Canadian troops when clearly his first concern is the preservation of Harper's personal mouthpiece, and she clearly doesn't give a red rat's ass about the troops.

Calls for Buckler's resignation will continue of course, but don't expect it to happen any time soon. Dismissing insiders and loyalists is not a Conservative Party trait. And as deBeauxOs said here, Buckler knows where all the bodies are buried.

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