The standard of proof

In QP this morning, John Baird explained, in part, the government’s unwillingness to put its faith in Mr. Colvin’s testimony as follows.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that in his testimony before the committee earlier this week Mr. Colvin confirmed that he never witnessed abuse firsthand.

It is unclear whether this consideration equally imperils some or all of this 2005 report of the U.S. State Department, this 2008 report of the State Department, the 2007 reporting of the Globe’s Graeme Smith, this government’s own 2006 overview of the human rights situation in Afghanistan, or this 2009 report of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

It’s also unclear whether the government believed Mr. Colvin to have firsthand knowledge of abuse when, as the Defence Minister explained yesterday, the government revised its detainee transfer agreement because of “concerns that were being expressed by Colvin and others.”

Keeping in mind that it is equally unclear to what degree Mr. Colvin’s concerns were taken into account given that Gordon O’Connor, the defence minister at the time, said yesterday that he did not read any of Mr. Colvin’s reports.