No idea for the rationale behind this piece except for an exercise in sucking up.
The “journo” states:
“In condemning with the same brush highly professional Canadian soldiers, and to complain that they were complicit in breaches of the law of armed conflict and knowingly buried his reports, it is Mr. Colvin who has some explaining left to do.”
If you mean the 3 Generals then say so. Don’t try and conflate the issue by using a generic term to include all possible soldiers. Because if I remember correctly Colvin said:
Second, I was very proud to have served in Afghanistan alongside the courageous and professional men and women of the Canadian Forces, including Canada’s military police. The focus of our attention, in my view, should not be on those who obeyed their chain of command, which soldiers are obliged to do. Instead, any responsibility for Canada’s practices toward detainees lies, in my view, with the senior military officers, senior civilian officials and the lawyers who developed the legal framework, designed the policies and practices and then ordered that they be implemented.
Seeking to obscure the point and being inaccurate is not a journalistic virtue.
Blatchford then goes on to highlight terms in a memo like, “not that bad,” or “not the worst in Afghanistan,” and to say that the worst the report could be said about them was they were”unsavoury” or “unsatisfactory.” Strange because I just read a heavily redacted memo on Dawg’s blog that also included:
Of the [redacted] detainees we interviewed, [redacted] said [redacted] had been whipped with cables, shocked with electricity and/or otherwise “hurt”….detainees still had [redacted] on [redacted] body; [redacted] seemed traumatized.
Individual sat with his toes curled under his feet. When he straightened his toe, it could be seen that the nails of the big toe and the one next to it, were a red-orange on the top of the nail, although the new growth underneath appeared fine. When we asked him about his treatment [redacted] rather than Kabul, he became quiet. He said that [redacted] he had been “hurt” and “had problems.” However, he is “happy now.” He did not elaborate on what happened [redacted]. [Redacted] seemed very eager to please, very deferential, and expressed gratitude for our visit. General impression was that he was somewhat traumatized.
When we asked him about his treatment [redacted] he said he had “a very bad time. They hit us with cables and wires.” He said they also shocked him with electricity. He showed us a number of scars on his legs, which he said were caused by the beating. He said he was hit for [redacted] days….
He and others told [redacted] that three fellow detainees had had their fingers “cut and burned with a lighter”….When we asked about his own treatment [redacted] he said that he was hit on his feet with a cable or a “big wire” and forced to stand for two days, but “that’s all.” He showed us a mark on the back of his ankle, which he said was from the cable. [Note: There was a dark red mark on the back of his ankle.]
Go and click to an actual copy of a Colvin memo if you don’t believe me. So our intrepid journo managed to see all the other more benign words and completely miss the bits about beatings and electrocutions? Some investigative talent you have there.
Then she claims that he couldn’t know anything like the military, because he didn’t spend time alongside the troops for more than half a day as she calculated it. Well for a guy who volunteered to cover for a predecessor who was blown up along with 3 soldiers, he showed a crap load of intestinal fortitude to me. The fact that his predecessor was blown up indicates that Colvin was prepared to be put in harms way. But here again she conflates the risks to the soldiers on the front line with that of the Generals. It would be my guess that Colvin was in far more danger where he was than any of the three Generals, so equating their position with the troops and decrying Colvin for not being there is another piece of shoddy story telling.
But an attempted slap down wouldn’t be complete until the liberal arts trained journo tries to back it up with a bit of science and messes up gloriously:
From the start, Canadian soldiers were using gunshot residue tests (this was mentioned by the former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier in his testimony to the committee this week, but the significance of the remark went unnoticed) to sift the wheat from the chaff.
They detained only those who tested positive for GSR (meaning they had recently either fired a weapon or been right beside someone who had), were found with guns or bomb-making parts or near IED strikes or were otherwise highly suspicious, such as well-dressed men carrying large amounts of Pakistani cash.
Mr. Colvin’s claim that innocent farmers were being cruelly dispatched to torture suggests he paid scarce attention to the “Taliban by night” phenomenon, whereby the man who farms by day becomes, under cover of darkness, a low-level fighter in the insurgency.
They used sciency stuff to prove that the folk they captured were fifth column terrorists. Gunshot residue tests do indeed tell you who has fired a gun recently and if used along with other forensic methods can combine with absolute certainty. Unfortunately, and you knew this was coming, they can produce false positives and result in erroneous arrests if used on their own;
In contrast, another traditional test for finding gunshot residue, the modified Griess test, often fails because it lacks such specificity. Its analysis is based on the detection of Nitrogen-based compounds called nitrites, which are gunpowder byproducts. But these compounds are also found elsewhere, leading to possible ambiguity in testing.
“Many chemical cleaners — anything that can be used to take off motor oil or freight dust — will test positive for gunshot residue using the Griess test,” Burleson said.
That would make the reading a false positive, which opens the door in court cases for reasonable doubt and possibly incarcerating an innocent person.
Motor oil and freight dust cleaners… mmm now why would any Afghani farmer have that on his hands. Also another common use for nitrites is as a pesticide (and a food preservative) and nitrates is fertiliser, nitrates reduce down to nitrites. Well knock me down with a feather, a farmer with motor oil/ freight dust cleaners and fertiliser on his person… terrrrrrist.
Poor effort, very poor.