Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Globe guns for Gen. Hillier

Edward Greenspon's paper, in its insistent attack on our Afghan mission, now targets the Chief of Defence Staff on the strength of two anonymous sources in Foreign Affairs. This is not journalism; it is a vendetta. From the front page, top of the fold:
Hillier pushed flawed detainee plan

Foreign Affairs shunted aside when Canada's top soldier insisted on signing 2005 deal that left no follow-up role for Ottawa

WASHINGTON AND OTTAWA [bolding below is mine - MC] — The Department of Foreign Affairs was pushed to the sidelines when Canada struck its detainee-transfer deal in Afghanistan, two senior government sources have told The Globe and Mail.

“We were not consulted,” said one, adding that Foreign Affairs was shunted aside by the Department of National Defence and Canada's top soldier, Rick Hillier, when he signed the accord in 2005...

Another senior foreign-service officer gave a longer explanation: “Hillier went to Kabul thinking of them [the detainees] as ‘scumbags' and made the deal. Hillier wanted to sign it; he insisted on signing it,” he said. “Defence took the file and messed it up.”


Some of the backlash from Foreign Affair officials is a response to a harsh condemnation of them by a defence official last week, who said they were too busy eating canapés to rally to embattled Defence Minster Gordon O'Connor under fire for the detainee-transfer agreement.


Gen. Hillier has said he has “no regrets” about the December, 2005, detainee-transfer agreement that he negotiated.

His critics paint a stark portrait of a Chief of Defence Staff rough-shouldering everyone else aside. “He has the ear of the Prime Minister and he just stomps anyone who gets in his way,” said one.


On 90 per cent of the Afghan file, Defence runs the show and tramples on anyone who gets in their way, said another Foreign Affairs official...
Close to character assassination I would say. And what were Liberal ministers and prime minister Martin doing when the agreement was signed in December 2005? Did they allow Gen. Hillier (whom Mr Martin appointed as CDS) to make government policy all by himself? Why doesn't the story deal with these issues?

Gen. Hillier, for his part, is engaged in some serious morale-building in Kandahar. It seems the detainee uproar, intentionally sparked by Mr Greenspon, is not going down well with the troops--note Gen. Hillier's refutation of the claim by one anonymous Foreign Affairs source that his department was not consulted about the agreement.

Update: Mr Greenspon is successfully driving the political agenda. During the Commons' Question Period today both the Bloc and the NDP attacked Gen. Hillier on the basis of the Globe story (the Liberals were notably silent about the general). Prime minister Harper said: "The information I have is that General Hillier is right and the Globe and Mail is wrong." Not that good journalism matters to Mr Greenspon. Disgraceful--both the paper and the politicians.

As for politicians, Andrew Coyne does a nice job of savaging the government's dealing with the detainee issue (which one Liberal MP called a "crisis" in Question Period--and we know who created the crisis).

Upperdate: Disclosure--I worked for the Department of External Affairs for almost fourteen years. I am disgusted at this sort of politically-motivated leaking. Surely Canadians are a cut above Americans? Maybe not.


Blogger Kenneth said...

From the Sun,

Here's an interesting question.

Why are the federal Liberals being given a free pass on reports they knew as early as 2003 that torture was a common practice in Afghanistan's prisons?

Despite being warned of this by its own officials stationed in Kabul, the Liberal government of Paul Martin agreed in December 2005 to hand over suspected Taliban fighters captured by Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan's security forces.

2:41 p.m., May 02, 2007  
Blogger burlivespipe said...

Well, I'm guessing the price of koolaide is still a quarter at your local corner.
The media's purpose is to dig up truths; if you don't like them you can always shout louder, I suppose. That seems to be the primary defence of your Paper Leader...

10:10 p.m., May 02, 2007  

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