Did Canadian experts get there in time?

South Korean officials began briefing foreign diplomats about what the investigation found


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On May 16, the federal government issued a short press release, proudly announcing that “Canada is sending three naval experts to South Korea” to help investigate the suspicious sinking of the warship Cheonan. “We are pleased to provide assistance to a key partner in the region,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. Peter MacKay, the defence minister, praised the military’s ability to “deliver excellence and project leadership abroad.”

Two days later, South Korean officials began briefing foreign diplomats about what the investigation found: that a North Korean torpedo struck the Cheonan, killing 46 people. On May 20—four days after Ottawa’s gushing press release—those findings were shared with the rest of the world.

Which begs the obvious question: did the Canadian experts actually arrive in Seoul in time to contribute to the investigation?

Matthew Lindsey, a National Defence spokesman, insisted that the Canadian delegation “played a critical role in the Republic of Korea-led investigation.” But he refused to provide any more details about that critical role, citing everything from “operational security” to “the norms of international diplomacy.” He wouldn’t say when the experts landed, when they left, or what evidence—if any—they examined. “What I can tell you is they were there for a short period of time in the later parts of the investigation, and they came back around the time when President Lee [Myung-bak] made his announcement,” he said. “This is all the information I have.”

Which begs another obvious question: why does the military bother writing a press release if it isn’t willing to answer basic follow-up questions? “I totally understand your frustration,” Lindsey said. “We’re just trying to get the information out there.” Some information.


Did Canadian experts get there in time?

  1. WHY Bother . Not a Thing To Comment About

  2. It was the Gov. not the military that posted the release, enough said1

  3. Following up on June 22, David Pugliese on the "Defence Watch" blog at the Ottawa Citizen wrote
    "I received an email sent by [Defence Department spokeswoman] Kathleen Guillot with media talking points…..adding a little more information." Pugliese sums up some of those points:
    “Canada sent three experts in naval operations with significant submarine background to South Korea to support the independent investigation by various international partners. The Canadian team was presented with South Korea's findings to provide technical analysis. The team studied and completely endorsed the findings, as did all other international participants. Canada was represented by Capt(N) Steve Virgin(4), who led the team of Canadian personnel who supported the independent investigation. The team was in Seoul for approximately eight days."
    That says that the Canadians did NOT participate in the investigation. Instead., AFTER the investigation, "the Canadian team was presented with South Korea's findings to provide technical analysis." Then "the team studied and completely endorsed the findings."

    • Pugliese adds, "The Canadian team arrived in South Korean on May 13, according to another email from Guillot." Was the team leaving Canada sometime after the announcement on May 16 or did it arrive in Seoul on May 13? The 5 page report "Investigation Result on the Sinking of ROKS 'Cheonan'" by the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group dated May 20, 2010. It mentions Canada only once," .. . In addition, the findings of the Multinational Combined Intelligence Task Force, comprised of 5 states including the US, Australia, Canada and the UK and operating since May 4th, . . ." Considering the Canadian government information which says its experts arrived May 13 or after May 16, at best it appears to exaggerate the role of Canada to include Canada as a participant of something which the JIG claims was operating since May 4th. The dates and the role of Canada in something called the Multinational Combined Intelligence Task Force do not seem to justify any suggestion that Canadian experts "participated in the investigation."

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