The pivotal paperwork

The portion of the report that precipitated Natynczyk’s correction appears to have been redacted in 2007

Here, again, is the report that apparently precipitated General Walter Natynczyk’s correction yesterday morning. And here is the same report included among the 1,185 pages of documents provided to the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International—collected here—by the government on Nov. 14, 2007 during the course of a federal court case.

As noted, when the report was cited yesterday, it included a reference to abuse. In the version released in Nov. 2007, that portion of the report appears to have been redacted. The offices of Gen. Walter Natynczyk and Defence Minister Peter MacKay have been asked to explain that difference and a response is said to be forthcoming. It will be posted here as soon as it arrives.

(For anyone who has downloaded the entire 1,185 page file, the above document appears at page 879.)

The pivotal paperwork

  1. I'm interested to see how they'll explain this. Good find!

  2. Well, at least they finally read it…

    • What's concerning is that since it'd been redacted, it's obvious somebody read it before and for some reason decided that wasn't fit for public consumption.

      • If the info came from a source that had a confidentiality agreement with Cda/military, it would be redacted.
        The Red Cross for example.

        • Did this report come from the red cross or anyone other than the CFs? No, right.

  3. So THAT's what a smoking gun looks like!

    • Smoking water pistol, maybe.

      I tend to agree with Coyne on this one. Not sufficient to justify an inquiry, a resignation, or war crimes charges.

      But worth asking more questions about.

      • Really? Becuase when I see a government reacting documents not on the basis of any legitimate national security concerns but clearly to avoid political embarassment (and possible war crimes charges) I kind of think that's a big deal. There is now solid evidence that the govt is trying to hide the truth from Canadians. They can't be trusted anymore on this file. Time for an independent look.

        • Please.

          A war crimes trial for any Canadian official is about as likely as Mark Steyn receiving an award from CAIR Canada.

          And the Department of Justice vets and defends all redactions, regardless of the stripe of the government. There has never been a finding by any judge that information was redacted to prevent embarrassment.

          In this case, the information was redacted before Minister MacKay made his statement. So was the official who was responsible for the redaction prescient?

          Try again, AL.

          • 'There has never been a finding by any judge that information was redacted to prevent embarrassment"

            Can you state with as much conviction that a judge has ever had a chance to make such a judgement?

          • Absolutely. Countless times.

            It's called section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act.

            Look it up on the Federal Court of Canada website.

          • There is i believe some debate whether section 38 supercedes the right of parliamentary committees to have access to documents in order for them to do their constitutionaly mandated work.

          • It's ridiculous that such an issue could be unclear, and open to debate.

            Parliament has it within its power to clarify this. It should do so.

          • Precisely, kcm. We do have a judge, who even ruled against the party bringing the action, based on the lack of evidence of torture. I can well see Amnesty and the BC Civil Liberties Association appealing that ruling now, and asking for punitive damages or whatever. I can further well imagine the judge ruling in their favour this time around, and blasting the government for redacting to prevent embarrassment–and in this case wilfully obstructing justice, since if the redacted parts hadn't been, he would most likely have ruled differently.

          • "A war crimes trial for any Canadian official is about as likely as Mark Steyn receiving an award from CAIR Canada."

            Question: if Canadian officials instructed our soldiers to turn over detainees to Afghan security forces when they had reason to believe these detainees might be tortured does this constitute a possible war crime?

            —————-

            "And the Department of Justice vets and defends all redactions, regardless of the stripe of the government. There has never been a finding by any judge that information was redacted to prevent embarrassment."

            How could there be any such finding if there's no inquiry and the government is obstructing the work of the Military Compliants Commission?

            ———————-

            "In this case, the information was redacted before Minister MacKay made his statement. So was the official who was responsible for the redaction prescient?"

            This assumes the cover-up only started recently with MacKay. It looks like the government has been trying to cover its tracks from the beginning. Gordon O'Connor lost his job as Defence Minister for being caught lying about this.

          • How could there be any such finding if there's no inquiry and the government is obstructing the work of the Military Compliants Commission?

            The material was vetted, as it always is, when Amnesty International took the government to court two years ago.

            As I understand it, the Department of Justice reviewed the redactions, as it always does, and was prepared to defend them if challenged.

            It's my understanding that Amnesty decided not to pursue that particular challenge.

          • ""A war crimes trial for any Canadian official is about as likely as Mark Steyn receiving an award from CAIR Canada."

            Question: if Canadian officials instructed our soldiers to turn over detainees to Afghan security forces when they had reason to believe these detainees might be tortured does this constitute a possible war crime?"

            The test is "substantial risk". If they believed that there was a "substantial risk" that those particular detainees would be tortured, and ordered that the detainees be turned over anyway, then yes, this might constitute a crime domestically and in international law.

            But the government argues that it believed that the arrangement that the Liberal government put in place was sufficient, until May 2007 whan it decided it had seen enough and needed to make changes.

            This is not the stuff of war crimes trials, sorry to disappoint you.

          • 'There has never been a finding by any judge that information was redacted to prevent embarrassment"

            Can you state with as much conviction that a judge has ever had a chance to make such a judgement?

        • 'Really? Becuase when I see a government reacting documents not on the basis of any legitimate national security concerns but clearly to avoid political embarassment (and possible war crimes charges) I kind of think that's a big deal"

          No doubt ACs reply would be…all govts engage in this sort of thing, it goes on all the time. It's scandalous…but what can you do…nothing apparently.

          • Well, you are entitled to your opinion about what AC's opinion would be…

          • Redacting a field note about a detainee or suspected taliban being beaten up by security/police thugs is now a national security secret…PLEASE!! What next? Redacting info on the number of coffee breaks our guys get? The whole Bush/Cheney fiasco is a prime example of what can occur if you overdo the secrecy shstick. This is Canada, not N. Korea.

          • I agree. There is way too much secrecy in Canada.

            It' just that I think it's a bureaucratic instinct, and not evidence of a cover-up.

          • I agree with you on this, but in this one particular instance of redacting gone wild, it directly influenced the outcome of a court case. I can't imagine the Justice Department didn't realize that if you take out all the bits that say "tortured" the judge would find insufficient evidence of torture. And they knew (or ought to have known) that the redacting job was so the documents could be presented as evidence in a court challenge.

      • Coyne wa s100% right.The public appetite isn't there, or, perhaps like the Somali enquiry it would simply be shut down.

  4. Regardless of your political affiliation or how you feel about prisoner abuse, I think we can all agree that this kind of secrecy and disrespect for the public (redacting portions of released documents for no legitimate reason) is not healthy for a democracy.

    • So you think all military documents should be put online for the Taliban, just to be open and accountable?

      • Does it concern you that members of the cabinet say there is no proof (no substantiated proof, no credible proof, etc.) when there actually is proof?

        Information so sensitive that is has to be redacted, but cabinet ministers have no idea about it? Military brass have no idea about it? Their underlings apparently know nothing about it?

        It starts to come down to a choice of gross incompetence by the most senior officials in our government, or knowingly misleading statements based on redacted (secret) information by same senior ministers.

      • Lets be very clear here: the only security threatened by these documents is the governments job security. Sending unredacted copies via registered mail to Mulah Omar and Osama Bin Laden would have no effect whatsoever on national security. I have always assumed that 90% of documents which the government restricts because of "national security" could be posted on bilboards with no effect whatsoever on our security. If anyone has any proof to the contrary I would be interested in seeing it.

        • Sending unredacted copies via registered mail to Mulah Omar and Osama Bin Laden

          You've got their addresses? 'Cuz I dare say we've got more to send them than unredacted documents…

  5. Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive…

    Perhaps I'm asking the obvious, but…wouldn't someone have had to see the allegation in order to make the judgement to redact it from a report?

    And wouldn't that someone who saw the allegation have a duty to report it up the chain of command for investigation?

    • If that info came from another government, or Red Cross, or any other organization that have confidentiality agreements with Canada/military, it would be redacted.
      That's why the Red Cross came out and scolded Colvin, and said such info would have been given to confidential persons higher up the food chain.

      • Clearly it didn't in this case. So, back to the drawing board Wilson.

      • That doesn't really change that someone would have had to read the allegations – and judge them so important to national security – in order to redact them from a published report.

        Though clearly many people disagree, given my "reputation" score has plummeted from 60p to 1p in the span of an hour….

        • Intense Debate seems to be having one of it's periodic "intense malfunctions". It seems to not be able to connect to its own ratings database. Also you may have noticed a lot of replies don't seem to be visible. Perhaps including this one.. we'll see.

      • That's a valid point, but not here.

  6. redacting not reacting.

  7. Wow, the CPCs attempt to rule this out of order was a desperate, desperate move.

    Whatever is in these documents must represent a grave political threat to the government.

  8. This week;

    Act 1 – Military brass vs. Minister of Defense.

    Act 2 – Military brass vs. Department of Justice? It seems military brass has released information that the DoJ deemed protected for national security reasons.

    Act 3 – Department of Justice vs. Department of Defense? The minister denied evidence existed. It wasn't known at the time because of the actions of the DoJ in redacting (perhaps suppressing?) that information.

    I suspect a news release tomorrow at 4:59 p.m. will shed some more light on all of this.

  9. As long as every time suspicion of possible abuse was dealt with, the way our soldiers handled this case,
    the military did the right thing.

    When they received crediable info (like from the Red Cross not second hand Taliban info) and stopped transfers, or held detainees longer while they investigated, the military did the right thing.

    No prison, even in Canada, is 100% safe from getting a bloody nose.

    • No one is accusing our soldiers of doing the wrong thing genius. The questions are about what orders they received from their political superiors and why said political superiors are attempting a cover-up, smearing Richard Colvin, etc.

    • When sh*t starts hitting the fan, it's time to stand behind the troops.

      Just wait until the bus comes…

      • "When they received crediable info (like from the Red Cross…"

        That would be info via a six step process that Colvin complained about. Questions…always more questions.

    • And when the gov't implemented a don't tell don't act policy, putting responsibility for handling this on the soldiers in the field, the gov't did the wrong thing.

      That our soldiers did the right thing doesn't excuse the gov't.

  10. Dosanjh, that ex-NDP spendthrift and his NDP pal Layton can hold a public enquiry into the matter – but fund the inquiry entirely through voluntary contributions from those who are so publicly concerned about what Afghans do to Afghans.

    I don't wish to contribute and I resent being obliged through taxation to pay millions to undermine our military people to prove absolutely NOTHING.

    • Sure, if you are willing to fund the war effort in Afghanistan for those who strongly wish our men and women home. Using the very same logic, they don't wish to contribute and they resent being obliged through taxation to pay millions to fight a war on foreign soil for NOTHING.

      We could play this game all day, everybody has something they don't like their tax dollars going to. So, I suggest to you that all your tax dollars go to the war, all my tax dollars goes to Heritage and Status of Women ministries, and all the war protestors tax dollars goes to a public inquiry. There. Happy now?

      • I was always happy, I certainly don't need a pipsqueak like you to make me happy, or ask if I am. If my opinion differs and offends you, suck it up

      • I realize that you are (mostly) jesting, but I semi-seriously like this idea, and have informally pitched variations of it over the years.

        Specifically, I'd add a page to each tax return. On that page you would take your federal taxes paid / owed, and divvy it up amongst 10 to 20 categories (eg RCMP, courts, jails, health transfers and so on). As a reference, the previous years tax assessment notice would include the breakdown of your previous year's taxes against the same categories.

        If nothing else, it would be very interesting to see just how different (or similar) the 'Government' budget is to the 'Taxpayer' budget. And who knows what this could lead to in the long run….maybe after a few years the government still gets to set 90% of the budget, but the taxpayers have a direct say over the remaining 10%.

        It's very similar to allocating your United Way contributions.

        • Sure, Phil — you mean you don't do that now? :)

          If it makes a taxpayer feel better about paying their taxes, I'm all for it. I'm not so sure I would want our budget based on it because of the number of unsexy things our money needs to fund, but I, too, would be interested in seeing the statistics (40% of Canadians want at least some of their money to go to x, while only 3% want to fund y)

          But really, you can decide your $8,000 or $120,000 or $935 all goes to infrastructure, or defence, or environmental, or whatever. Who's to say it doesn't?

          • Thanks. I was hoping for a slightly more gushing response, but that will do!

        • Wonder how much gets allocated to failed auto manufacturers that way…

          • Yeah, it would raise lots of interesting questions.

            Regarding the auto makers, I would have preferred that those funds (those given to the companies) had been allocated to a temporarily enhanced EI fund aimed specifically at directly affected workers. Then let the companies fail and see what rises out of the ashes.

  11. "To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targetted assassinations, even pre-emptive war."
    Michael Ignatieff
    May, 2004

    • I don't justify that attitude of Ignatieff's, but I can guarantee you he wasn't talking about turning over prisoners to medieval Afghan prisons simply because we were too lazy to think of a better idea.

      • I am so glad you were inside his head, and know 'exactly' what he meant. I think he's pretty lazy, torture or no torture.

        • You're right, I can't even figure out what you mean.

        • At least he does not quote out of context … possibly the most dishonest way there is to lie. Many more selectively deceptive out of context quotes are available on the CPC website.

    • are you suggesting that the CPC made a calculated decision that there was a need to embrace terror in Afghanistan?

      • I think frenchie is suggesting Ignatieff is to blame for con policy as regards detainees.

        • I am saying, he doesn't have room to speak, and yet he is.Laughable

    • "On all fronts, keeping a war on terror under democratic scrutiny is critical to its operational success… The war needs to be less secretive, not more. We need to know more about it, not less, even if what we learn is hard… [We want] a free press that keeps asking, Where are the detainees and what are you doing with them?"
      Michael Ignatieff
      May, 2004
      The very same essay.

  12. This is getting almost as serious as that pandemic we just went through

Sign in to comment.