Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gen. Rick Hillier: "Negligent Liar" Or "Detestable Scumbag"?

I CAN'T IMAGINE THAT ANYONE IS SURPRISED THAT HARPER'S MILITARY PITBULL, lauded in the media as a regular joe, tough-talking, no nonsense general, Rick Hillier, would take the stand and deny everything. Of course he would. He was in charge and diplomat Richard Colvin's explosive testimony that revealed that Canada's military and politicians knew that people they were handing over were destined for torture, means he is a war criminal. Or, to put it in his own plain-talking words, a detestable killer and a scumbag.
What's more, his claim that they didn't arrest any innocents is laughable. The insurgents in Afghanistan don't wear uniforms, they move amongst the population, blend in. And they fight from villages. That's why the Americans and NATO keep blowing the hell out of civilians, out of weddings and funerals - because the civilians look like insurgents and vice versa. So, to say that Canadians have some special knowledge not shared by others is simply a lie.
What is remarkable is not that Hillier is a liar. It is that he can get away with singing from the Tory playbook and nobody calls him for what he is - a Tory propagandist. When he says things like:




“Yes, we probably detained the occasional farmer – and whether they were farmers by day and Taliban by night, which is often the case, is something that is very difficult to discern.”
And later says:
"I saw nothing that would have caught my attention," Hillier said.
This is the syllogistic line used by the Tories - "we are fighting and capturing Taliban. These people were captured, therefore they are Taliban." The second line of argument "I never saw nothing" is nothing more nor less than an admission of incompetence. It's incompetent not only because Colvin sent off reports detailing concerns from the Red Cross and based upon his own experience. It is incompetent because you would have to have an IQ so low or be so utterly lazy in your research prior to commanding troops in Afghanistan, to not know that the people who we had put in power after 2001 were to a person connected with human rights abuses. They are all either former warlords, served warlords, or were the political representatives of parties tied directly to warlords. And guess what? They all had a record of torture.
So, when Hillier went to Afghanistan to "kill detestable murderers and scumbags", he must have known that there were no institutional protections in place - not one independent indigenous commission or organization - to prevent the "detestable murderers and scumbags", who it was his job to protect, from continuing as they had always done.
It wouldn't require much digging to point out this obvious truth. A simple scan at any Human Rights Watch report, even the US State Department's report on Afghanistan probably contains all these details. The shame is that our media will turn this whole thing into a personality circus - who can be more convincing: the populist general or the former diplomat? Stephen Harper or the torture-supporting leader of the Opposition? Not one media outlet is likely to actually do the background research on this. At best it will be a race to find the smoking gun: the document that proves that Peter MacKay or Harper himself received the report. But they already have their spin doctors in place to deflect even these. We've seen this yesterday with the Tories, following their loyal watchdog's testimony, denying anyone read the reports and, anyway, they didn't say anything of any interest.
Mr. Dugas said the fact that Mr. Hillier yesterday characterized the two reports as unworthy of action suggests questions over who received them are a “moot” point.
Harper's Tories remind me of the Harris Tories, denying for years that they knew anything or were in any way involved in the OPP on a native blockade that led to the death of Dudley George. Plausible deniability they call it. Lifelong toads like Hillier play their role in making such denial plausible. Sadly, so too do the media.
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