Safely retired former general Rick Hillier recently said he hasn't been following the Afghan torture scandal. Yes, sure, and the sun isn't going to rise in the morning. There might be another reason for the Big Cod's laryngitis on Afghan torture and just what top Canadians knew about it. It might have something to do with the fact that the guy they've tried so furiously to discredit has decided to fight back and he's willing to name names and offer up documents we've only seen blacked out.
In a 16-page letter intended to rebut his critics' claims, Richard Colvin - who used to be Canada's second top civilian staffer in Afghanistan - has laid it out, chapter and verse. Yes they knew, at the top echelons of DND and as far up as the PMO, and they did nothing about it. Worse yet, he contends, when Afghanistan-based bureaucrats sounded warnings about the oh-so bent governor of Kandahar province, DND pushed back to defend the animal. He was their guy. From TorStar:
The new allegation is contained in a two-year-old report by Richard Colvin, the whistleblower foreign service officer. Colvin's disgust that Canada would support a "known human-rights abuser" was palpable and formed the most incendiary paragraphs of the report. References to Khalid were entirely blacked out in the version of the report publicly released to the Military Police Complaints Commission.
But an uncensored version of the end-of-mission report was shown for the first time to The Canadian Press on a confidential basis.
"As far as I know, Canada has never suggested to (President Hamid) Karzai that Asadullah be replaced," says the memo, dated Oct. 24, 2007.
"In the one meeting where the subject was discussed, in July 2006, it was the president [Karzai] who raised the issue; Canada defended the governor, thereby ensuring his continued tenure."
The uncensored report sheds further light on Colvin's testimony last month before a special House of Commons committee, where he stated the governor was considered a "bad actor" on human rights.
It also makes clear the division between the Canadian military, which supported Khalid, and diplomats, who became increasingly vocal about allegations of corruption, drug-running and prisoner abuse.
...The warnings about Khalid – whose brazen decision to display the battered dead body of a revered Taliban leader to local Afghan media, before refusing to return it for a proper burial, triggered a massive bombing campaign in Kandahar city in the spring of 2007 – were heard loud and clear in Ottawa.
Concerns were serious enough to be raised at the highest levels of the federal government, foreign affairs and defence sources said.
A meeting was called in December 2006 in Ottawa to discuss the matter. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's national security adviser, Margaret Bloodworth, attended the session, sources have said.
...throughout 2007 the warnings kept getting louder.
A foreign affairs source said a memo sent by Colvin in the winter of 2007 was searing in its criticism and indicated the governor was corrupt, dangerous, self-serving and deeply unpopular with Afghans.
One Afghan government official apparently pleaded with Canadian diplomats and police officers for Khalid's removal during a meeting in February 2007, said the source, who has seen a document outlining the meeting. The official made a direct request to Canada to intervene with the president, the source said.
It's no wonder Harper's MPs are boycotting the Commons hearings into this business. They must know the guys who sit at their head table have a lot to hide and even more to lose unless these hearings are derailed. It's too bad Hillier had to go all the way to Afghanistan to deal with scumbags when there were so many just a short walk away from his office right in Ottawa.
One thing seems pretty clear. If Colvin's allegations are true, and a steadily increasing number of officials are speaking to to say they are, then our prime minister is a lying piece of dirt and so are a number of his key deputies.