BTC: The Lynch Report is out - Macleans.ca

BTC: The Lynch Report is out

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Reading it now. Here’s something.

“With respect to Mr. Brodie, the investigation has found no evidence, and no witness has come forward, to confirm or refute what Mr. Brodie claims was said between himself and the CTV News reporter from Ottawa at the Budget 2008 lock-up. However, based on the sequence of events, it appears probable that Mr. Brodie spoke to the reporter on the subject of NAFTA. Moreover, based on the knowledge the investigative team understands Mr. Brodie had at the time, it is possible that he shared information (which turned out to be incorrect) that Canadian officials in Washington had spoken to Senator Clinton’s campaign regarding NAFTA.”

Update I. Here’s what appears to be the most relevant part for Brodie and Michael Wilson.

“5.1 Alleged verbal disclosure by Mr. Brodie

“On February 26, 2008, Mr. Brodie spoke to an Ottawa-based CTV News reporter during the Budget 2008 media lock-up on the understanding that his comments were for background purposes only, and not for attribution.

“No evidence has been found and no witness has come forward to confirm or refute what was said between the two. However, based on the findings of this investigation, it appears probable that Mr. Brodie spoke to the reporter on the subject of NAFTA, and that he may have told him there had been contact between Senator Clinton’s campaign and the Embassy in Washington. There is no evidence that Mr. Brodie disclosed any information related to Senator Obama or his campaign.

“Any comments Mr. Brodie may have made during the lock-up did not reveal any information tied to the diplomatic report, of which he was made aware only on February 28. There is no evidence that Mr. Brodie disclosed any classified information.

“5.2 Alleged verbal disclosure by Ambassador Wilson

“Ambassador Wilson spoke to a Washington-based CTV News reporter on the telephone on two occasions (February 27 and 28, 2008, respectively), on the understanding that his comments were not for attribution.

“Ambassador Wilson acknowledges telling the reporter that the Canadian government had had contact with all the U.S. presidential campaigns, including Senator Obama’s, but the Ambassador is certain he did not speak to the reporter about Chicago or the meeting there between Senator Obama’s advisor and the Canadian Consul General. A PCO official was in attendance for the second telephone call and overheard the Ambassador’s side of the conversation. The official’s recollection of the telephone call is consistent with the Ambassador’s. No evidence has been found and no witness has come forward to refute what was said between the Ambassador and the reporter.

“Based on the findings of this investigation, there is no evidence that Ambassador Wilson revealed any information tied to the diplomatic report or to any U.S. presidential candidate’s position with respect to NAFTA, though his comments likely helped lead the reporter to the Senator Obama campaign. There is no evidence that Ambassador Wilson disclosed any classified information.”

Update II. So who’s fault is it?

“5.3 Unauthorized disclosure of the diplomatic report

“The Associated Press had a leaked copy of the diplomatic report on March 2. However, there are indications that the report, or at least information about the meeting between Senator Obama’s advisor and the Canadian Consul General, was known to the media prior to this date, possibly as early as February 28.

“The investigation has been unable to determine who leaked the report, to whom it was leaked or whether there was only one leak.

“The original diplomatic report was incorrectly classified and had an inappropriately broad distribution list.”

Update III. There are various recommendations, two related to Foreign Affairs, one covering the handling of documents by all government departments and then this.

“Any future undertakings signed by media representatives for admission to budget lock-ups should clearly indicate that comments made by any Government of Canada officials and/or ministerial staff during such lock-ups will be made on a background- not-for-attribution-basis only, and are to be considered and treated accordingly.

“The purpose of a budget lock-up, conducted under strict rules of confidentiality, is to allow journalists to understand budget material prior to its release, and give them time to prepare their stories. During the lock-up, federal officials and ministerial staff are present to provide substantive explanations on complex budget information. Officials act on the understanding that they are providing background information to the media and that their comments will not be attributed to them; these lock-up rules have generally been understood and respected by both media representatives and government officials. However, to ensure even greater clarity of these lock-up rules for everyone involved, it is recommended that any future undertakings signed by media representatives clearly indicate that comments made by any Government of Canada officials and/or ministerial staff during such lock-ups will be made on a background- not-for-attribution-basis only, and are to be considered and treated accordingly.”

Update IV. For what it’s worth, the Privy Council Office attempted to speak with the CTV reporters alleged involved, but the network declined on their behalf. I leave it to far more ethically minded journalistic types to weigh that decision.