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‘I have not seen those reports’


 

The Defence Minister tells Canadian Press he never saw Richard Colvin’s reports on the treatment of detainees in Afghan prisons. CP points out that he was equally unaware of a Foreign Affairs annual report on human reports that also flagged torture.

MacKay, who was foreign minister at the time, insisted Thursday that he knew nothing of the documents. “I have not seen those reports in either my capacity as minister of National Defence or previously as minister of Foreign Affairs,” he said in a telephone interview from Halifax. “I can’t speak for other ministers.”

Richard Colvin, who is now an intelligence officer at the Canadian embassy in Washington, wrote in May 2006 that the allegations of torture regarding Afghan prisoners were “serious, imminent and alarming.” He followed it up with another warning in early June 2006, almost a full year before the federal government acknowledged the problem. Colvin said he spoke with prisoners who claimed to have been tortured by their jailers and that inmates showed physical signs of abuse.

… The Foreign Affairs Department produces annual reports on human rights in individual developing countries and the 2006 review on Afghanistan specific flagged that country’s prison system as rife with torture. The following year as MacKay was questioned about it in the House of Commons he denied having read that document as well, despite it having been widely circulated in his own department.

Gordon O’Connor tells Global he too was unaware of Colvin’s reports.


 

‘I have not seen those reports’

  1. Wow, how incredibly convenient. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all live our lives that way? Just don't bother doing your job, and nothing is your fault!

    But I did love O'Connor's reply. It is always some staffers fault, isn't it, but this time with a twist. It was the staffer's fault unless the other staffer (Richard Colvin) was found "not to be credible". I do wonder what it takes to be important enough to bother the Minister with it.

    • It's hard to believe they actually ran on a platform of accountability. I've rarely seen a group so adverse to taking ownership of their actions and inactions.

    • It keeps getting better and better

    • You've always got the best links, Sisyphus. Thanks, I learn more from you than my local paper.

  2. Giorno's teaching them the Norm Sterling defense already?

  3. MacKay must have got the job because of his good looks and great hair.

    • Good looks and great hair? A matter of taste I guess. He got because of daddy and Harper owes him for lying (seems to be a habit) in bringing the right and right-right together.

    • Wherry's already said Gerrard Kennedy has great hair. Do we now have to have a contest? My vote is for Paul Shaffer.

      • I miss Pierre Pettigrew in this regard.

  4. Canada's Conservative Government: We know nothink!

    We should put together a list of all the times they've claimed they didn't know what was going on.

  5. Canada's Conservative Government: We know nothing!

    We should put together a list of all the times they've claimed they didn't know what was going on.

    • Typical union inefficiency. Make a list of the times they DID know, and you'll get the job done five times faster.

      • To be fair though, there is the possibility that MacKay actually didn't see the documents because they were left at Julie Couillard's house.

    • I agree — Radwanski keeps bleating for a "narrative" — well isn't this it? Their incessant unaccountability of the government on all issues that are important to us.

      • Issues that are important to you, but it seems not so important to many others.

  6. It's not that hard to believe that Peter MacKay can't read.

    • It is possible this is part of his long term strategy to get into the Senate.

      • Groan.

        (and a little LOL).

  7. MacKay has become Canada's Colonel Klink – I know nothing.

    Now I expect the media to try to dumb this down – got to protect Harper after all.

    • It was Sgt Schultz who knew nothing. But I like the comparison — Shulz and Manuel from Fawlty Towers.

      • Whoops – you're right. Rob Nicholson is Colonel Klink.

        • Exactly! Right down to the thin, pursed, disapproving lips.

  8. If they didn't see the reports that alone is a scandal because while credible organizations were raising concerns about prisoners, this government was giving assurances that no one was being mistreated.

    What were those assurances based on if they didn't read the reports submitted by the people who were assigned to investigate?

    Either a lie or unbelievable incompetence.

    • Exactly. Closing your eyes, putting your hands over your ears and singing "la-la-la-la" is not my idea of Responsible Government.

  9. I fear that most Canadians, and Canadian media, really don't care much about this whole thing.

    Most people seem to think that sending detainees off to be tortured is just a "technical" violation of the high international standards that we claim to support in principle, but don't feel the need to adhere to in practice, especially when dealing with "enemies" we have been conditioned through propaganda (as usual) to view as evil, subhuman, etc.

    If it was the Taliban sending our troops off to be tortured, then we'd care a lot, of course, and we'd express our "principled" humanitarian opposition to this behaviour.

    In the present circumstances, however, the Harperites know that they can pretty well openly lie and dissemble on this, and even if they get totally outed by a few reporters, there will be no political price to pay for this.

    Sad, really, but I think we are, once again, getting the government we deserve.

  10. This is what happens when the party in power spends more time on politics than governing, which seems to be what many Canadians support according to polls.

      • I think most of the voters think politics is a reality show. However, they only vote if they can do so online or on the phone.

  11. To be fair, he likely didn't see the actual reports. Much more likley, one of his aides prepared a one-page summary of the reports, and briefed him on the contents.

    The sheer volume of paper in a government ministry almost precludes a minister from reading everything. That's why he has staff who bring importnat stuff to his attention. And if his staff didn't think this was important, there should be a parking lot full of buses waiting for said staff to be thrown under the wheels.

    • And apparently Colvin sent it via several different paths, so there would have been more than one staffer who thought it of no importance. I can't see it, myself.

    • Yup, blame everyone else. Now that's taking responsibility for you

  12. Harry Truman: The buck stops here

    Peter MacKay: I have not seen those reports

    Stephen Harper: When I become prime minister I will undertake an unprecedented overhaul of the federal government. Cleaning up government begins at the top. I will replace the culture of entitlement with a culture of accountability.

    Danby: Pffffft

  13. Harry Truman: The buck stops here

    Peter MacKay: I have not seen those reports

    Stephen Harper: When I become prime minister I will undertake an unprecedented overhaul of the federal government. Cleaning up government begins at the top. I will replace the culture of entitlement with a culture of accountability.

    Danby: Pffffft

  14. Harry Truman: The buck stops here

    Stephen Harper: When I become prime minister I will undertake an unprecedented overhaul of the federal government. Cleaning up government begins at the top. I will replace the culture of entitlement with a culture of accountability.

    Peter MacKay: I have not seen those reports

    Danby: Well. That tclears that up

  15. Harry Truman: The buck stops here

    Stephen Harper: When I become prime minister I will undertake an unprecedented overhaul of the federal government. Cleaning up government begins at the top. I will replace the culture of entitlement with a culture of accountability.

    Peter MacKay: I have not seen those reports

    Danby: Well. That clears that up

  16. I don`t know guys, Afghanistan is one ugly place to be and I wish we were not there and I think that there is a lot of ugly things happening there that I don`t even want to know about. But it`s war and the enemy has chosen to fight by digging holes in the road, placing bombs, and wait for someone to get blown to pieces. And if the Afghan police used some nasty methods to find out some info that saved some innocent Afghans or maybe my neighbor`s kid, then so be it.

    But if it makes you feel better to tee off on a gov`t minister caught between his role as a cabinet minister and his desire not to take actions that harm the Canadian troops, then fill your boots. You should feel very smug and righteous sitting in your warm basement defending all that you interpret as right and wrong—-and please feel free to blast me for having understood that the war in Afghanistan is not a Philosophy and Ethics class at U of T.

  17. He is the same as Elmer who was in the DARK about Karlheinz Schrieber his best friend was doing with Lying Brian.

  18. If Peter's feelings are the same as yours then perhaps he should have said he read the reports but didn't give a rat's ass about what happened to the prisoners that were turned over.

    If these reports weren't important enough to reach his eyes, then I have to wonder just what is important enough.

    I guess ignorance is bliss, and gives you plausible deniablity to any abuse that is uncovered 'down the road'.

  19. Yes, Pierre Pettigrew had great hair. Pettigrew was a dead ringer for ex-Japanese Prime Minister and Elvis fan, Junichiro Koizumi, who recently became the voice of Japanese anime superhero Ultraman. Perhaps Pettigrew can find a similar post-political career?.

  20. Oh, I would love it if politicans would speak their mind but I would also be naive and you know that.

  21. It is good of you to be honest, William, I'll give you that. For myself, if I have a principle that I feel is worthy, I will stick by that principle even when it is inconvenient to do so. Sort of what makes it a principle, instead of a whim.

  22. Indeed. Then let him say that, out loud. let him stand and defend the viewpoint, rather than hiding in his warm parliament office, defending himself by claiming ignorance of the issue.

  23. I`m not sure how long the " see nothing—say nothing Sgt. Schultz politician "—has been in the works but that`s what we have now whether it`s Obama, Iggy. Mackay etc. Do you know what it`s called when a politician speaks from principle on a controversial subject—-it`s called a gaffe—-and the media and blogs will be all over him for months.

    Jenn, it`s easy for you and I to say we live our life in a principled way but we don`t have to contend with Taliban bombs in Afghanistan or even worse fight for votes against Lizzie May in Central Nova.

    • So you're convinced they are lying, but that's okay?

      • No, I`m convinced you have understood nothing.

    • An excellent point, William. That is why it is so important to put those principles into laws or at the very least policy, so that in the emotional heat of the moment, or in the horrifying reality of the situation, the decision doesn't have to be so much *made* as *implemented*. I assume you were kidding about fighting against Lizzie May for votes was worse.

      As to the "gaffe's" I completely agree with you. What is needed is for ALL politicians to stand behind those words. They'd all have to do it at the same time, which is the problem, otherwise we continue on this same dumb cycle of pointing fingers hypocrisy.

      • In 1993 fifty– two well-principled good people came to Ottawa as Reform MP`s. Within weeks they were being called politically naive, racist. woman-haters, homophobic and Chretien referred to them in the House as the turd party. That`s the only time I remember a political party making an effort to act in a true principled manner and Stephen Harper had a front row seat to see the results and I`m sure he said never again.

        The utopia you refer to won`t happen—-the best we can do to keep them honest is to at least change gov`ts frequently—-no more triple majorities for a mediocre PM like Chretien.

        • Oh, I do love it when two people from opposite ends of the spectrum end a discourse at the same place.

          I agree with you, William. We may never even see a single majority again if this is the best they can do.

  24. I've seen variations on this comment a lot today. As commenters on a blog post, are we not allowed to discuss things that are of either burning or passing importance to us? Can we only comment when the issue is important to many? Is there a list of approved topics to talk about on any given day, and if so, where is it posted?

    • Rather than condoning the governments record wrt this issue and the "so-what" attitude of others, my comment was actually more of a lament that the issue doesn't seem to attract widespread concern.

      I'm just not optimistic about the probability of rasining interest, although I encourage you to keep up the struggle.

      • Oh, okay, thanks for the explanation.

        • No worries…it seems that my writing has a tendency to be ambiguous.

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