Monday, November 30, 2009

Of spinning camp followers, liars and knaves

The forces of darkness continue to be unleashed against Richard Colvin.

Today, several items.

Here's the way the Ottawa Citizen
spins a story :

"Red Cross blasts Colvin on torture claims."

Sound like the IRC is questioning whether torture actually took place, doesn't it? Well, no. The IRC is apparently annoyed with him for spilling the beans about tortured detainees.

The IRC has complained to Canadian authorities in the past about late notifications with respect to detainee transfers. It is certainly not claiming now that Colvin made anything up. It is fussing, instead, about the release of what they consider confidential information.
What Brian Lilley of CJAD is pleased to call part of an supposed "unraveling" of Colvin's allegations turns out, for all of the column-inches devoted to it, to be almost a non-story, one about process, not substance.

More Citizen spin: "[Eloi Fillion, the IRC spokesperson] indirectly cast serious doubt on whether Colvin would have been informed if Red Cross officials had significant concerns that Canadian soldiers had violated international humanitarian laws."

What is the basis of this? Well, if the IRC had had problems with the treatment of detainees and breaches of international law, we are told, it would have communicated these to the "person or persons concerned." In Canada's case, it would have made its representations to the "state through the military as well as to the state at home."

Who is implying tha
t Richard Colvin, a senior diplomat on the scene, would have been left out of this loop? The IRC official--or Canwest News Service?

And then the clincher: "Asked if such reports had been sent to Canadian authorities at any time since Canadian combat forces arrived in Kandahar to fight the Taliban in 2006, Fillion declined to comment."

Wow. What a stunning refutation of Colvin's claims.

Then back to that inveterate camp-follower Christie Blatchford, who apparently has not had enough of purveying selective Tory leaks. Here she is this morning (with Rosie diManno dutifully in tow), eeling on again about Colvin.

She now admits that there were six emails issued by Colvin in 2006, but is very cagey indeed as to whether she has actually read all of them. That doesn't prevent her, of course, from suggesting that their contents are anodyne. Calling Colvin a "so-called whistleblower," she finds it very suspect indeed that he ramped up his warnings after the first Globe and Mail revelations of detainee torture appeared on April 23, 2007.

It doesn't seem to have occurred to her that Colvin, stymied by officialdom for nearly a year, saw the opportunity to raise his concerns once again now that a media spotlight was shining brightly on the issue. Indeed, she thoughtlessly quotes from an email he sent about a Globe reporter covering the story, Graeme Smith, who apparently uncovered "terrible" accounts of torture, "systematic and regularized" abuse, and "Canadian involvement [that was] too close for comfort." Clearly Colvin felt corroborated.

But her conclusion? That Colvin only discovered abuse "after or as" the Globe did in 2007, and lashed out in "hyperbolic fury." The proof? Had he been saying anything in 2006, she says with a straight face, the media would have gotten hold of the story earlier.

Good grief.

But, drop by drop, the truth is getting out, and the right questions are being raised by more responsible journalists. In her earlier column, Blatchford snorted at the idea that any detainees might be innocent, as Colvin has stated. (Evidently addicted to CSI, she rabbited on at length about GSR--but her superficiality is exposed here.) This morning, however, we learn that Afghanistan officials themselves were complaining that our troops were detaining too many innocent people.

So far, the facts remain securely with Richard Colvin, and the sleazy innuendo with Harper's ministers, sympathizers, flacks and shills. The government continues to sit on nearly all of the relevant documents, for "security reasons." Even the responsible conservative side of the journalistic spectrum has had just about enough of this.

Once again, then, the pressing question: if Colvin (a respected senior public servant promoted by the Conservative government) has almost overnight become a naif, a "Taliban dupe," or, worse, a liar, what on earth has the government got to hide? Yet concealment seems to come naturally to the Harper administration--as well as its on-going campaign of character assassination, aided and abetted by its journalistic buddies, so touchingly eager to be of use.

Meanwhile, as collateral damage, the notion of an independent public service continues to unravel.


[H/t Contrarian.]


UPDATE: Scott Taylor: "When you start taking flak, you know you're over the target."

[H/t commenter Holly Stick via POGGE.]

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