Detainee Fracas: Read the Quotes Carefully
You know about the back and forth regarding whether Canadian government officials knew that detainees handed over to Afghan authorities could end up tortured.
Assuming they were quoted correctly, here’s what two Ministers have said about allegations contained in reports of possible problems a former Canadian political officer in Kandahar Richard Colvin says he sent up the line.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, to the Canadian Press:
“I have not seen those reports in either my capacity as minister of National Defence or previously as minister of Foreign Affairs.”
Former Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor, to Global TV/CanWest:
“I always tell the truth and I said it in Parliament, I said it in committees and I’ll say it today: I was never made aware of any allegations of prisoner abuse, period …. Nobody came to me and said ‘Minister, there are prisoners being mistreated.’ Nobody.”
Also, the Canadian Press headline:
“MacKay denies seeing Afghan torture warnings“
tells a different story than the headline of a CTV online story about the same statement:
“MacKay denies knowing about Afghan torture”
I look forward to hearing more about this one.
UPDATE (1): This, from the PM, via CBC.ca:
Speaking in Toronto, where he was making a funding announcement, Harper said he didn’t see the reports “at the time.” “There were allegations of Canadian troops involved in torture. We’ve been very clear that’s not the case,” the prime minister said. Harper said a new Afghan prisoner transfer agreement was put in place 2½ years ago. When the allegations of abuse surfaced in 2007, Harper described them as “baseless.”
Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he intends to find out why reports warning of the possible torture of Afghan prisoners early in the Kandahar mission never made it to his desk. He says neither he, nor his deputy minister ever saw diplomat Richard Colvin’s reports that were circulated widely within both the departments of Foreign Affairs and National Defence, as well as among senior military commanders.