He was the major domo of Canada's mission to Afghanistan, the Big Cod, the hard-chargin' guy who left no doubt who was in command of this gig.
Now that evidence of the torture of detainees is breaking out, safely retired General Rick Hillier says he never heard a word about it. Hillier says he didn't see so much as one of the dozens of e-mail warnings sent to civilian and military staff in Ottawa by senior Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin. He never even met the guy.
Is Hillier being honest? Who knows? Maybe that's not really important. Because whether he saw Colvin's warnings, his denial isn't the end of it. Assuming Hillier is telling the truth he needs to explain why he didn't get those warnings, why he didn't read those e-mails, why he wasn't on the phone directly to Colvin. What was going on at DND that kept those warnings from reaching the top brass? Who decided there was no need to tell Hillier? Why was he not told? What did Hillier do or not do to control what news reached him from Afghanistan?
It seems to me if Hillier was running a defence department in which warnings of this magnitude were kept from him, he was doing a lousy job of running the place. We've made a national celebrity out of this guy and for the life of me I can't understand why.
In today's Toronto Star, Chantal Hebert is drawing the same conclusions about Stephen Harper and Peter Mackay.