Refuse the "refute', and give us an inquiry -

Refuse the “refute’, and give us an inquiry


1. A headline on the National Post website:

Colvin refutes Afghan detainee testimony

2.  From a press release from Laurie Hawn that just came out:

In past weeks, committee members have heard from numerous senior military and diplomatic officials who have all strongly refuted Mr. Colvin’s claims.  There is nothing substantially new in Mr. Colvin’s recent correspondence.

This is driving me crazy. Simply stating the opposite of another’s position, or saying it is false, does not refute it. It might rebut it, or it might contradict it, or dispute it. But “refute” is an accomplishment verb, and to refute a claim or opinion is to successfully prove it to be false or erroneous. So you can refute another’s argument through logic or evidence that successfully meets a given standard or test of truth.

Aside from the fact that the ongoing misuse of the term in headlines and news stories scratches on my eyeballs like fingernails on a chalkboard, it matters in more serious, and less pedantic way. What we have in the Colvin affair now is a whole lot of he said/she said/they said/we said testimony, much of it rebutting or disputing or contradicting what others have said.

Who is right? Who has been refuted? Where lies the truth? What is the required test or standard?

We need an inquiry. Now.
The full Hawn statement after the break.

December 16, 2009

Statement by Mr. Laurie Hawn, MP

In past weeks, committee members have heard from numerous senior military and diplomatic officials who have all strongly refuted Mr. Colvin’s claims.  There is nothing substantially new in Mr. Colvin’s recent correspondence.

When military and diplomatic officials have been presented with credible, substantiated evidence, they have taken appropriate action, including pausing and suspending the transfer of Taleban prisoners. The Government has also invested over $132 million to enhance Afghan justice and corrections capacity and infrastructure, provide training and mentoring to the military, police, and human rights workers.

The events in question happened over three years ago and have been thoroughly aired many times since then. The opposition is second-guessing the actions of the Canadian Forces with four years of hindsight, from 12,000 kms away, from the safety of their comfortable offices.

As a retired member of the Canadian Forces, I look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our Canadian Forces this Christmas and New Year.  And unlike my opposition counterparts, I will not be cavalierly suggesting that Canadian soldiers have committed war crimes for political gain.

Filed under:

Refuse the “refute’, and give us an inquiry

  1. You think it's easy speaking English correctly?

  2. Wow, I wonder how the Canadian Forces feel about the government and governing caucus using them as shields in this? They probably feel like the government only cares about their contribution to our nation's security insofar as it gets them votes…

  3. You don't call an inquiry simply because of an accusation. I have yet to see any evidence for Colvin's claim, so what is the point of an inquiry? There was apparently an incident in which a man was struck with a shoe, and at some point in time someone found a cable somewhere. Is that all there is?

    What's the purpose of an inquiry? To lament the lack of evidence? To inquire why there is none?

    If I were to stand in the commons and claim the Liberals are a bunch of space aliens, does that necessitate an inquiry? Would I need some sort of proof, or is my good standing in the diplomatic community enough to justify an inquiry over my claim?

  4. I agree that there should be an inquiry, because it's probably the only way out of this mess.

    But let's not pretend that the Opposition won't milk it for all it's worth. Every single revelation, no matter how minor, will be treated as the Worst Thing In The World.

    Canadian voters, most of whom aren't paying attention, will start to assume that where there's smoke, there must be fire (even if the "Canadian Detainee Crisis" turns out to be almost entirely smoke).

  5. You don't find anything, say, inconsistent, in your stance that preventing the evidence, in the form of documentation, from being tabled allows for questioning as to why the lack of evidence?

    • Has there been an occasion when evidence was prevented from being seen?

  6. Every single revelation, no matter how minor, will be treated as the Worst Thing In The World.

    You mean like what happened during the sponsorship inquiry?

  7. "But let's not pretend that the Opposition won't milk it for all it's worth."

    Maybe Cons could set up Inquiry with terms of reference that severely limits what they can investigate, like Martin did when establishing Gomery.

  8. Yes, there are occasions where Canadian-transferred detainees were tortured. Mr. Colvin details them in his recent statement. One reported torture and had recent growth of toenails that indicated they had been pulled out; one reported beatings and had scars from them; and one described being beaten with an electrical cord and had a red mark indicating electrocution. Plus yes, there's the man who was beaten bloody (somehow, if it's with shoes, it doesn't count?) after transfer. And there's the fact that everyone who works with the NDS (Afghan intelligence service, to whom we transfer prisoners), including the US State Department and the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Teams, observes that they torture detainees as a matter of course.

    • here goes the idiot again!

  9. Sort of like the sponsorship scandal, but without the corruption, graft, theft and crimes committed under the aegis of the governing party. Sort of like a pseudo-sponsorship scandal, where there's smoke but no fire.

  10. Like what exactly.. anything that isnt potentially embarrassing or incriminating cant be released on grounds of "national security"?

    Thats what they're doing right now.

  11. Martin's term of references for Gomery said Inquiry was not allowed to investigate Martin or Earnscliffe and when Gomery released his findings Martin said he had been exonerated, that Gomery didn't find anything wrong with this behaviour. Cons just need a fraction of the chutzpah exhibited by Martin and they could probably set up inquiry that would leave Cons out of it.

  12. Unless of course there's fire.

  13. Before the Gomery Inquiry there was only a pseudo-scandal with a whole lot of smoke.

  14. I guess we'll find out eventually. My guess is that it's not so much fire as stuff that could possibly make the government look bad, once it's filtered through the Opposition spin machines.

  15. And reap all the benefits Marin got from Gomery…

    • I'm sure someone will correct me, but didn't Gomery explicitly clear Martin?Or was it Chretien…i forget?

      • Others can weigh in on whether Gomery was able to even discuss Martin's role, but I was thinking of the impressive electoral benefits Mr. Martin obtained…

  16. I fail to understand your reasoning. Even if we accept that it's okay to torture taliban fighters (I don't accept that, for the record) it is still against the Geneva Conventions and it is still against our OWN policy referenced with regard to Afghanistan.

    Somehow, at some point, for some reason, it appears that we failed to live up to our obligations. That seems like fire to me. Unless you are suggesting Colvin, Putt, the unnamed soldier on the field, and Natynczyk all are liars.

  17. "And unlike my opposition counterparts, I will not be cavalierly suggesting that Canadian soldiers have committed war crimes for political gain."

    How do these people look at themselves in the mirror? Seriously, what kind of a character flaw makes it possible for a person to say something like this?

    • I wonder.. could this statement be grounds for libel? I mean it's pretty obvious that Hawn's opposition counterparts never did any such thing, something of which he would be aware of. Thus, it's a deliberate falsehood to damage a reputation.

      • Someone should really keep track of all the times Opposition MPs have mentioned "war crimes" with regards to the Canadian Government and the Canadian Forces. There's been quite a few instances. And no, Laurie Hawn's statement is not grounds for libel. Not by a long shot.

  18. What, you're joking, right? Yeah, cast your mind back to last week when we discovered that in at least one case, documents were redacted because they supported the testimony that detainees had been tortured once handed over to the Afghans. I do believe other examples of redacting on the basis of supporting the allegations have since come to light, but I can't put my hand on them right now.

  19. That was the guy that was hit by a shoe. Being hit by a shoe is not torture.

    • the CF officer that detained he individual who was later assaulted made clear that he and his colleagues felt the need to photograph based on the knowledge that people were being beaten after being turned over. are you calling our troops liars scf?

      • Of course he is. He'll do anything in order to protect his precious Harper.

        • Harper needs no protection from me. In fact, he needs no protection at all. I haven't even mentioned Harper's name. I think you may be hallucinating.

          • Ahah! You thus must be Harper. How else would you offer a defence of circular masturbation to defend the undefendable (produce the evidence s@c*f and the truth will set you free!)…

      • So funny, so now you're trying to pull that "don't attack our troops" trick. Ok.

        Anyway, back to reality…

        Secondly, the MP didn't photograph the man purely to show he was in good condition when he got into the ANP truck. Canadians were routinely photographing every prisoner they detained, in part because most Afghans don't carry identification and sometimes have only one given name, but also so that international monitors, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, had solid evidence of who was who.

        • you really got chutzpah…. you are calling both me (could care less) and the soldier in the field a liar….

          "We then photographed the individual, prior to handing him over, to ensure, that if the Afghan National Police did assault him, as has happened in the past, that we would have a visual record of his condition."

          • Ok, so now we have two separate statements regarding the photograph, and one of them is a lie. Or perhaps photographs were taken for many reasons, in which case it is a misleading statement.

            Since you've shown me the source of your statement, I retract my accusation that you are a liar.

            However, we are once again at the point of debate where I fail to agree that being hit with a shoe is torture.

          • 1) you have to keep your story lines straight scf, the shoe incident is the guy he detains, we do not the details of the assaults that he references having occurred in the past, so you have no basis for deciding they do not meet an international<strike/> your<i/> standard of torture.

            2) i believe – correct me if I am wrong – your quote is Blatchford. Mine is a soldier. Who do you believe more?

          • 1) So it wasn't the first time someone was hit with a shoe or maltreated somehow. And once again, we have statement with no backing evidence of torture – maybe the guy heard it from Colvin? There's a whole lot of nothing there.
            2) Blatchford also got her quote from a soldier or some other individual on the base.

            Are you trying to make a coherent point? I don't see it.

          • My point is clear. Your "quote" is not a quote in he primary data sense (i won't throw around the invective 'liar' you have been). It is Blatchford's interpretations of what he saw heard over space and time. My "quote" is an actual first person quote from the notes of a Canadian soldier. Your are championing Blatchford's interpretation in diminishing/ dismissing the soldier's account of what they were doing and why they were doing it. In other word's, you are making clear you don't believe our soldiers.

          • Whatever you say. Keep trying. I must say, you are rather biased.

  20. Ambition for power, at all costs.

  21. You just made all of that up. None of that was in Colvin's statement.

  22. Not to mention that the dollar value of the sponsorship scandal was $100 million. It's a lot easier to put value in our money than in other nation's tortured innocent.

  23. It always amazes me when people choose to defend the undefendable actions of abuse/torture. Never too low, eh?

  24. If you read the whole report, you will see that detainee 3 and 4 were not Canadian detainees.

    We recognized ‘Detainee 2' in the photos. The name and time of detention (February 2007) also matched. In an email of 25 June 2007, we informed Interdepartmental Coordinator for Afghanistan avid Mulroney that ‘Detainee 2' was ‘ours,' but that we still had to locate the remaining three.


    It is therefore likely that all four Canadian‐transferred detainees we were seeking in Kabul had been tortured: The one we interviewed, and the three we were unable to locate.

    Secondly, regarding detainee 2…

    none immediately reported having been tortured. All three at first volunteered information about conditions in Kabul only. None said they had been mistreated, although they did omplain about such issues as poor food and insufficient access to fresh air…

    He did not elaborate on what had happened to him in Kandahar. However, our consular officer noticed that he had new growth on two of his toenails

    So, that's it. The only evidence is that they noticed growth on someone's toenails.

    That is not evidence.

  25. Read Colvin's addenda already. He reiterates what everybody else has always said, namely that Afghan government jails routinely practice torture. What do you want, that Colvin should personally have been invited to observe ANP torture sessions? That's the standard for Canadian complicity? Why don't you just put your head back under your pillow and leave the country's honour to those who care about it, i.e. the patriots.

  26. So, let's see, we have a guy who stubbed his toes, and a guy who was hit by a shoe.

    And we need an inquiry because?

  27. Being beaten black and blue and requiring medical attention is torture. Makes you wonder why they bother with medieval apparatus such as a waterboard, doesn't it?

  28. Try reading the thing, scf, it most certainly was so.

  29. Oh, sorry I was confused there for a second. I thought we were on the "we are against human rights abuses" a la our stance in China. My bad.

  30. you must be joking

    • No. I was hoping you were.

      • Well, you've got one heck of a wacko straw-man argument there. It's too senseless for me to bother rebutting.

  31. If it's so routine, then it shouldn't be so difficult to find evidence. Yet somehow, there is none.

    • I wonder if we can find evidence that you don't masturbate sheep? If you don't, it shouldn't be difficult to find. Yet.. somehow.. there is none.

      • You'll need to go elsewhere for your sexual stimulation. I'm sure you must have some kiddie porn lying around.

  32. You clearly have no idea what waterboarding is. There is no such thing as a waterboard, there is no board. And there's nothing medieval about it, either.

    OK, so your claim now is that anything that requires medical attention is torture. Therefore, boxing is torture. Also little kids fighting in playgrounds. Guys in barfights. Tackles in soccer games. car accidents. Body-checks in hockey. It's everywhere.

    There's a lot of torture going on in Canada.

    • Oh, you haven't been to that Christmas Presents for Conservatives someone posted around here a few days ago? Shame, I'm sure there were lots of things you'd have liked–including a waterboard setup that looked rather medieval. I'm sorry, that was my reference for that.

      Those things would be torture if they were intentionally inflicted on someone constrained in some way that they were neither able to protect themselves, nor fight back. I'm not sure how a car accident would qualify, though.

      • Well, I'm flattered you're suggesting Christmas presents for me.

        Anyway, the definition of torture tends to be along the lines of "infliction of intense pain", "anguish", "agony". To me, being hit with a typical shoe does not qualify.

        For the most part, I don't like arguments where people twist the meaning of words and you end up arguing semantics rather than arguing actual points. The whole point is, you (or perhaps others on this page) are using that word to describe these generalized things (like hitting a guy with a shoe) to mislead people, people that use the traditional definition of torture.

        So, if you want to use the word "torture" in such a generalized way, go ahead, but I don't agree with that usage, but I don't really care all that much either.

      • I read Hitchen's article. You're bringing back your straw man skills. I never argued waterboarding was not torture.

  33. I think it's a typo. Rather than 'refute' he means 'refuse'.

  34. You're funny. You call me a troll because you're a liar and I pointed it out.

    I pointed out that
    1. you had claimed three Canadian detainees were tortured but two of them were not Canadian detainees
    2. a man who claimed he had not been harmed had marks on two toenails, and someone made the wild insinuation with no evidence that the toenails had been pulled out, even though there are a million other possible causes, and not only that, the person himself never even suggested that his toes had been harmed by someone else even when he was asked.

    You are a liar, plain and simple, and the more you try to spin it, the worse it looks. As for the fact I excerpted sections, I have no inention of posting the whole document, so of course I posted the parts that supported my points.

    • Where exactly does it say that Detainee 3 and 4 are not ours? Even granting that you posted semi-honestly (which is obviously not the case), all I see is confirmation that Detainee 2 definitely is, and they're not sure about 4 others.

      You asserted that none had been tortured, but Katherine pointed out that the testimony indicates all of them had stated later on in the interview that they had, and that there were marks on their bodies to corroborate this.

      No, s_c_f, I think it's pretty obvious who the liar here is.. and it's not Katherine.

      • Can you read?

  35. No, that is why the same words -and /or statements are used over and over again.

  36. katherine, the idiot!

  37. The majority of Canadians don't care about this issue. If there was ever a problem the procedures have changed. So what? The MSM beat this issue to a pulp because they and the LIberals think its important. Shut up with this and concentrate on real news.

    • I love the Conservative talking point that asserts real Canadians don't care about an issue. Especially as this one landed in my mailbox right behind my Angus Reid newsletter, which reports to me that an earlier survey shows that "63 percent of our members believe Canada should put more emphasis on human rights and minority rights, regardless of the economic implications."

    • Right Colvin brought the issue forward, not the media. Everyone is doing their job except the govt. No one's shutting up just cuz you don't approve.

      • What idiot thought it was a good idea in the first place to handover our detainees to Afghans?

        • What idiot thought it was OK to ignore evidence of torture and then stand in the House of Commons and lie about the opposition supporting the Taliban?

          And of course, if it was idiotic to transfer prisoners to the Afghans, what idiot came into government and did nothing to change that?

        • Abu Ghraib Wilson…i know it's not in the same country, but you'll get the connection…if you can be bothered that is?

  38. "And unlike my opposition counterparts, I will not be cavalierly suggesting that Canadian soldiers have committed war crimes for political gain."

    Note the grammatical error–Canadian soldiers have been accused of committing war crimes for political gain? Given the stakes, you'd think he could avoid ambiguity like this in a written statement.

  39. Colvin made statements today (for the first time?) about the period from 2002-2004

    ''… Lieutenant‐General Gauthier commanded Canadian troops in Kandahar in 2002, and General Hillier commanded ISAF in Kabul in 2004.
    It is implausible that they would not have known how Afghans treat their prisoners…''

    It would also then be 'implausible that [the Liberal govt] would not have known how Afghans treat their prisoners'

    But how would Colvin know what the military and the Liberal govt knew in 2002-2004?
    He didn't take his post until 2006.
    Are there memos implicating the Martin Liberals in a file somewhere?

    • Sigh…

      Of course, prisoners were not transferred to the Afghans while the LPC were in government, and, as you continuously ignore (one of those inconvenient facts that get in the way), the agreement that was negotiated contained safeguards to protect prisoners from torture – which is a clear indication the government was alive to the concerns about torture.

      • And the new Consevative govt is on record as defending that 05 agreement…clearly Wilson is wilfully deaf or simply obtuse.

  40. 'I agree that there should be an inquiry, because it's probably the only way out of this mess'

    What mess CR?

    It's media and Opposition pressure put on the Conservative government as a way to move the polls.

    Read Colvin's latest 'look at me'.
    How in the h would he know what the Generals AND the Liberal govt knew in 2002-2004,
    he was posted in 2006??

    This guy would get pulverized into soup in an inquiry.
    It's a waste of time and damn hard on our military.

    Dear Liberals,
    Generals are soldiers too.

  41. "Simply stating the opposite of another's position, or saying it is false, does not refute it…"

    No, but saying it is refuted, over and over again, makes it magically come true. That is how the CPC operate.

    Have you noticed the institution that was once called the "Senate" is now referred to as "the liberal dominated unelected Senate" in many newspapers? What the CPC does works. They repeat their talking point over and over again the media simply adopt that terminology.

  42. Though I do wonder what the media are going to call the senate once Harper has a majority.

  43. Yes, those are methods of torture. How does this prove that Canadian detainees have been tortured?

    You seem to be arguing that
    a) Afghans have been tortured by Afghans
    b) Canadians have detained Afghans and handed them over to the Afghan authorities
    c) Therefore, the detainees have been tortured

    To me, (a) and (b) do not imply (c). For me, I'd need evidence (other than stubbed toes and a shoe incident).

    • Detainees taken by the CF were added to the large pool of prisoners in Afghan jails. That pool of prisoners routinely suffered torture at the hands of their Afghan jailers. It is thus likely that detainees taken by the CF were tortured by Afghan jailers. This is what Colvin has testified to in general terms. He is unable to be specific because the specifics are being withheld by DFAIT and DND with backing from the Department of Justice. Which is why many people, including our host, are calling for an inquiry — to get the specifics. The one specific that has leaked out so far involved a shoe. It does not follow that all the specifics will involve shoes; in light of what we've been told about Afghan jails, it may well involve very severe stuff.

      Anyway, the scandal is as much about government disinterest as it is about the fates of Taliban fighters. You can't just hand over detainees to famous torturers and wash your hands of them.

      • "It is thus likely" … that is the implication that I question. If it were so likely, I am skeptical the Liberal government would have created this detainee agreement in the first place.

        So you are saying you've been against the transfer of detainees ever since the very beginning? Why didn't you say something in 2005?

        And of course, it's not surprising you would claim that the "scandal" is not about torture at all, it's about "government disinterest".

        • It's perfectly clear to anyone with an open mind what Jack's saying. It is known that Afghan prisiners are routinely tortured, our detainees are part of that pool, ergo they were unlikely to have been treated differently. Colvin has basically said as much while being unable to provide details, either because rules prohibit him or the govt is witholding the docs.Given all the available evidence an assumption of disinterest on the part of the govt is a perfectly reasonable one.
          Most of your post is as good an example of intellectually dishonest trolling as can be found on these boards.

          "You are saying Colvin has no specific evidence because of the government, yet at the same time we need an inquiry because of such strong evidence being presented by Colvin. Make up your mind."

          Duh!! No, an inquiry is necessary because despite Colvin's evidence we can't draw any firm conclusions, partially because the govt wont allow the record to be examined, to either confirm or deny his allegations.

          • Wow, are you ever a broken record. You wrote all that and added nothing. As for your insults, go stuff yourself. One thing's for sure, you are no model for honesty, not even remotely.

          • lol As for my insults! What's the matter – can't take criticism?
            You've called 3 or 4 people on this post alone liars.
            Grow up.

          • Do you have a point? Two comments that have added absolutely nothing but insults. Good work.

  44. you have it backwards Pete Tong. It is the Liberal Party along with the NPD and the BLOC who are risking the lives and reputation of soldiers, and HARPER who is defending them.

    If anything, refusing the public inquiry is probably protecting the Liberals from the charge of hypocrisy. You know what' really funny? None of today's "Journalists" or reporters have even bothered to ask the question to the LIberals. For example, Ujal Dosanjh was insistent that senior military personnel give a 100% guarantee that no Taliban detainees handed over were mistreated………..and yet no Canadian "journalist" ask Mr. Dosanjh to provide the same guarantee. Dead giveaway eh?

    • "If anything, refusing the public inquiry is probably protecting the Liberals from the charge of hypocrisy."

      Yes, well, Harper is well known to bend over backwards to protect the liberals, so I see your point.

  45. IF anyone actually belives Liberal Party MP's give a damn about Afghan detainees……..they are as sadly deluded as most folks from the NDP or green party. Ask the average Canadian on the street (probably not a good idea in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver) if they have sympathy for the terrorists killing our soldiers…and see what response you receive.

    This whole non-issue is just a witch hunt looking for daily soundbites. I frankly don't give a damn what happens to the Taliban. Frankly, anyone who thinks murdering women in public, or throwing acid in the faces of your girls going to school……will not find any sympathy here. The Taliban need to rely on their Liberal supporters for their sympathy, because they are certainly not getting mine.

    • I am sure you are well aware the "ask the average Canadian on the street" process is not very accurate. Polling at least attempts to be accurate. Let's see, what are the polls saying again? Oh yeah…

      "Frankly, anyone who thinks murdering women in public, or throwing acid in the faces of your girls going to school……will not find any sympathy here."

      I just want to understand you. It is bad when Arghans commit violent acts against other Afghans, unless it is torture, and then it is OK. Do I have it right?

      You cannot take a stand against violence on one hand while you are tacitly approving it on the other.

      That may be why Harper is not simply admitting "Yes, we turned prisoners over to be tortured, and we know the "average Canadian on the street" does not care so we are going to keep on doing that".

  46. I think refute is the right word to use in the context of Colvin's letter which shreds the claims of the government by pointing to specfic reports sent to specific generals and officials mentioning specific instances of torture. Completely refutes the "no credible evidence of torture" claim from head to toe. More like he said (Hawn) documents said (Colvin).