Monday, July 09, 2007

Does O'Connor still have a job or what?

Like Rick Mercer, I've always liked our Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hiller. We've had our disagreements to be sure, but I like that he’s plain spoken and tough and stands-up for the troops. That’s what a good general should do.

And Hillier is a good general. But what he’s not is a politician. He’s our top soldier, and as such he shouldn’t be crossing into the political arena. He’s done it before, and these actions seem to be to be outside his purview as well:

The office of General Rick Hillier, Canada's top soldier, has halted the release of any documents relating to detainees captured in Afghanistan under the federal Access to Information Act, claiming that disclosure of any such information could endanger Canadian troops.

You’ll recall it was lies, obfuscations and confusion by DND and the Harper government on detainee disclosures that led to a lot of heartache for Deceivin’ Steven in the last parliament and probably ensured Hillier’s boss, defence minister Gordon O’Connor, won’t have the job all that much longer.

Never, however during the detainee disclosure gong show was security mentioned as a concern around revealing the information. But now…
In another e-mail on the same day, Lt.-Col. Clarke suggested it had been a mistake for DND to release information about detainees earlier and that the department was rethinking its disclosure policy.

So, they should never released it in the first place, they say. Security reasons, you see without explaining, as if that’s supposed to just end it. But Hillier has gone even further:

Even disclosure of the number of detainees captured by Canadian soldiers is now considered off limits, after the intervention of Gen. Hillier.

Is he serious with this? Even the number of detainees captured is now secret for security reasons? That stretches the plausibility of the security argument from weak to pathetic. It’s utterly ridiculous.

And why is this Hillier’s call in the first place? Guess what name doesn’t come-up one in this article? That’s right, there’s no mention of Gordon O’Connor. He’s still the Minister of National Defence right? Or did I miss a memo?

Assuming he is, this should be his call. Because he is the one that is elected and is (in theory) accountable to the people, and to the House of Commons.

And both O’Connor and Hillier and O’Connor should be called before the HoC Defence Committee to justify this trampling of the people’s right to know, and explain how knowing the number of detainees captured by Canadian soldiers could possibly be a security risk.

Because it seems to me, based on the last time they released this information, that the only security threat posed is to the security of Harper’s government.

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