'Even in our own prisons somebody can get beaten up'

General Rick Hillier doesn’t remember reading Richard Colvin’s memos, seems not to understand what all the fuss is about.

Mr. Hillier derisively compared the political uproar that surrounded Mr. Colvin’s parliamentary testimony to people “howling at the moon” and said nobody ever raised torture concerns with him during the 2006-2007 period in question.

“I don’t remember reading a single one of those cables [from Mr. Colvin] … He doesn’t stick out in my mind,” Mr. Hillier said of the diplomat’s warnings and criticism. “He appears to have covered an incredibly broad spectrum, much of which I’m not sure he’s qualified to talk about.”

The former soldier rejected suggestions Canada was “complicit in any war crimes” – saying Ottawa had a responsible system in place. He also played down the fact Afghan prisoners got hurt in jails. “Even in our own prisons [in Canada] somebody can get beaten up. We know that.”

Mr. Hillier signed the first detainee transfer agreement in 2005, the same agreement Peter MacKay now says was insufficient.