Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wear it well, Baird. Someone just knocked over a domino

From the Maclean's:
Rising for his second question, Mr. Ignatieff offered the obvious follow. “Field notes by Canadian soldiers make it clear that a detainee was beaten in Afghan custody after being transferred by Canadian troops, way back in June 2006. Our soldiers saw it firsthand. They took photographs. They did the right thing. They rescued the man. They reported it up the chain of command. However, the government did nothing,” he ventured. “What kind of Canadian government refuses to act on firsthand accounts by its own troops, credible accounts, of detainee abuse in Afghan jails?”
Well... a Harper government styled on their US southern Republican brethren. That's who. But, according to John Baird, who pulled the foreskin off his neck long enough to say... (emphasis mine, even though Baird was screaming)
“Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. Let us talk about the facts,” he boldly declared. “The then-Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk, a decorated war hero, someone who has served our country in uniform for decades, stated very clearly more than two and a half years ago that the Afghan in question was not detained, was not captured by Canadian Forces, and he repeated that statement yesterday. I say to the Leader of the Opposition, why can he not trust General Walter Natynczyk?”
War hero??! Tout ce qui brille n'est pas or. Perhaps Baird should have simply pointed out that Natynczyk is a pretty good general in his own right and not have gone down that "war hero" path. In any case, Baird, typical of his ilk ranted that which might be fraught with hidden bombs.
With his third try, Mr. Ignatieff attempted to sidestep this entirely. “Mr. Speaker, the issue is much simpler than this,” he reckoned. “It is an issue about what happens when Canadian soldiers report credible accounts of detainee abuse. Those accounts are not in question. They take photographs of the abuse, they report it up the chain of command and, for a year, the government does nothing about it. That is the issue.”
Sidestep. But as Ignatieff points out, there were pictures and reports.

Then, "Airshow" Mackay gets in on the act. Blathering on he gets to this...
Mr. MacKay stood to various off-the-record requests from the Liberal side to support the troops.

“Simply put, Mr. Speaker, we are not,” he said to Foote’s question. “We are applauding them.” In the next breath, he repeated Gen. Natynczyk’s contradiction of said soldiers.

Judy Foote:

“Mr. Speaker, either they believe the eyewitness accounts of our soldiers on the ground or they do not. It is as simple as that,” she ventured. “In 2007-08, two senior Canadian officers further corroborated the accounts of the soldier and the medic under oath in court. Detailed notes show the name of the Canadian platoon that captured the Afghan before he was handed over and beaten. There are even photos. The Conservatives not only refuse to release this information, but they deny it exists. Why will they not come clean? Why will they not believe our soldiers?”
Oy. There's enough there to give a Chief of Defence Staff the willies. Natynczyk wasn't personally present at the alleged event. Best check this out further. But before that happens, Mackay dispenses more of his traditional wisdom...

“Mr. Speaker, last time I checked, the chief of the defence staff is not only a soldier but the top soldier,” the Defence Minister replied. “I will take his word.”
Top serviceman is more accurate. But the awkward thing about this is that Mackay has not done the requisite ministerial inquiry to get his own facts. If he has, then he has ignored the results. I don't think Natynczyk is a liar in any respect. But I also don't believe he had the whole story. That means Mackay was dancing though a minefield, attempting to deflect responsibility.

Then... uh oh.

Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Canada's top military commander, is now saying a suspected Taliban fighter abused by Afghan police in June 2006 had been detained by Canadian troops, contrary to comments he made Tuesday.


Natynczyk read from a report on the incident by the section commander, who said they had the suspect get down on his stomach before they conducted a detailed search, which included emptying the Afghan's pockets, cataloging all the items and photographing him.

"I did not have this information in May of 2007 nor yesterday when I made my statement," Natynczyk said. "But I am responsible for the information provided by the Canadian Forces and I am accountable for it today."

Section commander. An NCO, on scene, provided a written occurrence report. And, given all the bits of fur that have been flying around on this incident in particular, it just now manages to find its way to the desk of the CDS?

There will be loud and unpleasant noises coming out of 101 Colonel By Drive tonight.

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